Social Democrats win Finland’s parliamentary elections after 100% of ballots counted

Chairman of the Finns Party Jussi Halla-aho right campaigns for the Finnish parliamentary elections in Tuusula Finland Saturday

Chairman of the Finns Party Jussi Halla-aho right campaigns for the Finnish parliamentary elections in Tuusula Finland Saturday

"I could not expect a result like this, and no one could", Halla-aho told supporters on Sunday, referring to the party's overall result.

The latest opinion polls had indicated that the Social Democrats stood an excellent chance of becoming the country's largest party, thus securing the post of Prime Minister, although it was widely recognised that they would obtain less than 20 per cent of the vote.

The other parties obtaining seats in the new 200-seat Eduskunta - Finland's parliament - are the Swedish People's Party with 4.5 per cent of the votes and 9 seats and the Christian Democrats with 3.9 per cent of the votes and 5 seats. The Finns Party railed against public sacrifices in the name of fighting climate change.

The opposition Social Democratic Party has promised to address widespread public concern that public spending was cut too harshly in recent years as the economy struggled to emerge from the recession that followed the 2008 financial crash.

The party could hold significant influence in the talks to form the next government, which in Finland is typically a coalition of three or four parties.

The Social Democratic Party had 18.9% of the uncompleted tally of advance votes and the National Coalition Party wasn't far behind with 17.2%.

Finland's leftist Social Democrats party has won the general election by a thin margin, capturing two more seats than the nationalist Finns Party, according to final results from the justice ministry.

The Centre Party - which is also in the country's governing coalition - headed by Prime Minister Juha Sipila, appears to be the big loser, obtaining 13.8 per cent of the votes and 31 seats in Parliament, its worst showing in history.

Officials said some 300,000 advance votes remained uncounted when polls closed at 1700GMT.

"We want a more moderate and sensible climate policy that does not chase industries away from Finland to countries like China", Halla-aho said Sunday at a Helsinki polling station.

Immigration remains a key policy issue, Halla-aho said. "Negotiations for a new government will be very tough and very hard", Social Democrat supporter Mikko Heinikoski, 37, said.

Unlike Finland's Social Democrats as well as populists in the south of Europe who resonate with voters angry over slow economic growth in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis, the Finns call for fiscal restraint.

Climate change: Most parties support efforts to combat climate change, but they differed during the campaign on how far to go and at what cost.

"Finland isn't capable of saving the world", Finns Party chairman Jussi Halla-aho, 47, said at a recent news conference.

Greenpeace is calling the parliamentary vote in Finland the "climate election", saying that "never before has climate and the limits of planet Earth been discussed with such seriousness in Finland".

Voter Sofia Frantsi, 27, an architect from Helsinki, told The Associated Press "for everybody, it's about the climate". It's kind of a climate election.