Finland joined the EU in 1995, first electing MEPs in a 1996 by-election. At the 1996 election and 1999 election Finland elected 16 MEPs, which fell to 14 in 2004. Finlands are elected using open-list proportional representation, where a D’Hondt count distributes seats between parties, and then individual votes for candidates are used to decide which candidates are elected. The 2004 result was:
- National Coalition Party (European People’s Party) – 23.7%, 4 seats
- Centre Party (European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party) – 23.3%, 4 seats
- Social Democrats (Party of European Socialists) – 21.1%, 3 seats
- Green League (European Greens) – 10.4%, 1 seat
- Left Alliance (Nordic Green Left) – 9.1%, 1 seat
- Swedish People’s Party (European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party) – 5.7%, 1 seat
From 2003 to 2007 Finland was governed by a centre-left coalition of the Centre Party and the Social Democrats. Finnish politics is dominated by three major parties, with most elections resulting in two of them forming government. All three parties have led a government in the last decade. The 2007 election was a major defeat for the left, with a new government led by the National Coalition Party with the support of the Centre Party.
Finnish opinion polls from earlier this year show the National Coalition Party benefiting from a swing away from the two other major parties. This would result in the NCP maintaining its four seats while the Centre Party would lose one of their seats. Polls show the Social Democrats, Greens and Left Alliance maintaining their seats. Polls show a decline in support for the Swedish People’s Party, which would deprive them of their one seat. The polls suggest this seat will go to a coalition of two small right wing parties, the True Finns party and the Christian Democrats.