Finnish nationalists pick hardliner as leader in blow to coalition

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 10, 2017 4:02 AM

JYVASKYLA, Finland (Reuters) - Finland's eurosceptic Finns party elected an anti-immigration hardliner as their new chairman on Saturday in a move set to toughen the party's nationalist policy line and spelling trouble for the center-right coalition government.

At a party congress, 56 percent of party members voted in favor of Halla-aho while 37 percent backed the more moderate Sampo Terho.

Halla-aho, a member of the European Parliament who wants Finland out of the European Union, has said he would push the his party's coalition partners to tighten immigration policy, and that he could also take the Finns out of three-party government.

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While snap elections are seen as unlikely, the break-up of the coalition could derail healthcare and local government reforms central to its plan to balance public finances.

(Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl and Tuomas Forsell; editing by Alexander Smith)