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HELSINKI, April 19 /TASS/. Finland is electing a new parliament on Sunday. Finnish voters will elect 200 deputies to the one-chamber legislature for another four-year-term. The new government will be formed within the next few weeks after the elections.
A preliminary vote took place in Finland on April 8-14 in which 1.3 million people or 31.9% of eligible voters took part. The turnout (31/2%) was higher than four years ago.
Finnish centrists are expected to rise to power after a four-year break.
Prospects of joining NATO and relations with Russia were the main foreign policy issues discussed by candidates during debates. The leaders of major Finnish parties doubt that Finland is going to apply for NATO membership. Most of them, however, believe the country should be given a chance to make its own choice. The new parliament will most likely be instructed to prepare a report on the pros and cons of Finland’s movement towards NATO.
At the same time, all Finish political parties stand for good-neighbourly relations with Russia.
"It is clear to all of us that Finland is part of the West and the European Union. But it is also indisputable that we have a long joint border with Russia. We should maintain good relations, including trade ties, with Russia because it is our major trading partner. In all times, including the time of crisis, we should see to preserving bilateral dialogue," said Juha Sipilae, the leader of the Center Party of Finland, who is considered to be hot favourite to be appointed the new prime minister.
Eight Finnish political parties will run in the election race but the toughest struggle will be among four of them. According to the latest public opinion polls, the Center Party of Finland leads with 24%; the National Coalition Party (/16.9%) and the Finns Party (16.7%) come second and the Social Democratic Party of Finland (15.1%) is third.
The vote will take place in 13 election constituencies.