Finland is poised to become a “second Estonia” — a political force that has become increasingly important to the nation’s political and economic fate.
In the run-up to the March 25 presidential election, Finland will elect a new president, and it is likely to become the first country to elect a major party leader who was born in the Baltic country and who also served as its minister of finance and economic affairs.
Estonia’s former prime minister, Alexander Stubb, is the most prominent candidate for president.
His political party, the Social Democrats (SD), has been running in recent years on an anti-immigration platform.
But it has not attracted the kind of support that Stubb had hoped for.
In this election season, the party is expected to run a campaign centered on economic nationalism and its own right-wing, anti-EU views.
Stubb’s Social Democrats are widely viewed as the most right-leaning party in Estonia.
The Social Democrats’ candidate, the center-right politician Tero Ahtisaari, is also a member of the ruling center-left People’s Party.
The former PM is not the only one with a populist platform.
Stubb’s anti-establishment message has resonated with many Finns.
The party’s popularity has increased by 10 percentage points since 2014, according to polls.
But many Finnns are wary of the party’s nationalist and xenophobic platform, which they fear will fuel the rise of anti-immigrant populism.
The social-democratic government of Prime Minister Juha Sipila has tried to reassure Finns by promising to cut taxes for all citizens and make them pay more in taxes.
Stubslau has tried, too, to distance himself from Stubb and the Social Democratic Party.
Sipila is not alone in his attempts to distance him from the party.
The new leader, Sipilä, is expected on March 18 to present a new platform to parliament, which will include measures to cut the deficit and increase public spending.
Stubby Ahtis has been widely criticized for his handling of the economy, which has worsened since his term as PM ended in late 2016.
Sippingila, the head of the Social Democrat party, has been the most vocal critic of Stubb.
In early 2016, the new prime minister and Stubb signed a deal in which they agreed to work together on a debt reduction plan.
In June 2017, Sippingila accused Stubb of undermining Stubb in the race for the presidency by supporting Stubb during the presidential campaign.
But Stubb defended himself by saying that Sipils comments were “not my words.”
Ahtisaar has said that he and Stub are on “a new path” and has said he will make the Socialists his top priorities.
But the SocialDemocrats’ leader, Tarja Halonen, has also made clear that she wants the Social-Democrats to take a more hard-line stance on immigration.
Halonen has said she wants to make sure that immigration to Finland remains at levels of the past.
She has called for the removal of Finland’s borders and for the reintroduction of mandatory deportation.
In recent weeks, she has also said that the Socialdemocrats have “no intention” of being a partner for the EU in a future free-trade agreement with the EU.
Stub has said the Social Dems will support Finland in the future and that he hopes to get along with the Social democrats in the government.
He has said in the past that he would support a coalition government with the SD.