HELSINKI The strong showing of an anti-euro party in a Finnish election on Sunday has heightened the risk of a fresh obstacle to European Union plans to bail out Portugal and fortify the euro.
Seizing on voters' anger with bailout efforts for weaker euro members such as Portugal, Ireland and Greece, the populist True Finns made huge gains in the ballot and are now set to join in discussions on who will be in the next government.
The right-leaning National Coalition topped the vote but by a narrow margin. It got 20.4 percent of the vote, while the left-leaning Social Democrats received 19.1 percent and the anti-euro True Finns got 19.0 percent, results showed.
Following are reactions on Monday to the election.
JUKKA TARKKA, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, HISTORIAN
"The True Finns' success was a surprise, though it was at least partly to be expected based on the opinion polls."
"Maybe an even bigger surprise was the collapse of the Center Party and that the SDP did better than I had expected."
On prospects for government talks: "It is hard to see how the True Finns and the National Coalition will fit into the same government -- they both nailed down their positions so tightly before the election."
"TheSDP is in a good position (going into the government talks) -- the National Coalition is quite dependent on them."
Tarkka said that the most likely scenario was that the National Coalition and the SDP will form a government together with a few of the smaller parties: "That's not a very solid majority -- will it be able to function?"
On bridging the gap over bailout plans for Portugal: "That will be the most difficult issue, very problematic."
VILLE PERNAA, DIRECTOR FOR PARLIAMENTARY STUDIES AT UNIVERSITY OF TURKU:
"The old concept of forming the government cannot be used now. Previously there has been out of the three big parties two in the government and one or two smaller parties."
"But now the True Finns, which is the biggest winner and got so many seats, cannot be seen as a small party."
"The government talks will be tough. The biggest party, the National Coalition party and the biggest winner, the True Finns, are in many issues of opposite opinions and values."
"Both or at least one will have to bargain a lot from their election programs. To adapt these programs together, will require large compromises."
"One of the questions is, if the Social Democrats are in the negotiations, what will their line be? They have been critical."
"This is such an extraordinary and strong demand for change of direction, that it has to show somehow in the government."