Populist party surges in Finland poll; EU aid at risk

April 18, 2011 02:04

HELSINKI - Finnish voters threw sand in the gears of European Union plans to bail out Portugal on Sunday by thrusting the anti-euro True Finns party into a crucial role in parliament and possibly into government.

The center-right National Coalition narrowly won with 20.4 percent of the final vote but the True Finns made the biggest election gains of any party, garnering 19.0 percent compared to 4.1 percent in 2007, which means they are likely to be involved in talks on forming a government.

The charismatic True Finns leader Timo Soini said he wanted to change the terms of the bailout for Portugal.

Finland's parliament, unlike others in the euro zone, has the right to vote on EU requests for bailout funds, meaning it could hold up costly plans to shore up Portugal and bring stability to debt markets.

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