Polls close in Finland; conservatives in the lead

By Karl Ritter

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, April 17 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

Timo Soni, leader of the opposition True Finns party, is surrounded by press as he casts his vote in Finland's parliamentary elections in a school in Espoo, Finland on Sunday April 17, 2011. The nationalist party that rejects bailouts for Portugal and other debt-ridden eurozone members is expected to make strong gains in Finland's election Sunday but remains unlikely to join the next government, according to a series of recent polls.

LEHTIKUVA, Pekka Sakki) FINLAND OUT NO SALES, Associated Press

HELSINKI — Polls have closed in Finland's parliamentary election, with early results showing the conservatives in the lead and big gains for a nationalist party that wants to block bailouts for Portugal and other cash-strapped eurozone members.

With about one-third of votes counted, the conservative National Coalition Party — part of the current center-right government — was in the lead with 20 percent, just ahead of the opposition Social Democrats.

The nationalist True Finns, who don't see why Finland should rescue Europe's debt-ridden economies, were in third place with almost 19 percent.

Full official results were expected later Sunday.

The rise of the True Finns has rattled nerves in the 17-member eurozone where bailout funds require unanimous approval.

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