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Global warming dominates election in Finland – San Francisco Chronicle

HELSINKI — Finland’s Social Democratic Party retained a narrow lead to emerge as the top parliamentary election vote-getter Sunday, trailed closely by the populist Finns Party after most votes were counted.

Voting followed a campaign in which concerns about climate change even overshadowed the issue of how to reform the nation’s generous welfare model.

Finland, a European Union member of 5.5 million people, has one-third of its territory above the Arctic Circle. Most political parties support government actions to curb global warming. But pre-election policy debates over what and how much the Nordic country should do revealed disagreement among voters.

The Social Democrats secured 40 seats in Finland’s 200-member parliament based on a preliminary tally of 97% of ballots. The Finns won 39 after campaigning on the message that the Finnish government should not overdo its efforts to combat climate change.

The election, held six weeks ahead of elections to the European Union’s legislature, was being watched in Europe for indications of how a broad bloc of Euroskeptic parties might do across the EU. The Finns Party is part of an alliance of populist parties that seek to become the strongest faction in the European Parliament and to radically transform European Union policies on migration, security, family and environment.

The nearly complete preliminary vote count gave the conservative National Coalition Party 37 seats and outgoing Prime Minister Juha Sipila’s Center Party 31.

Jari Tanner and Dorothee Thiesing are Associated Press writers.

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