Finnish vote could delay Lisbon rescue

PORTUGAL’S €85bn (£75bn) rescue could be delayed by a surge of anti-EU bailout fatigue in Finland, where the eurosceptic True Finns looked on course for a stunning result in elections last night.

Finland is unusual among Eurozone states in requiring a majority parliamentary vote for major decisions regarding the EU, which would include contributing to Lisbon’s rescue. And the Eurozone’s current temporary bailout facility requires a unanimous vote of all 17 member states to dispense aid.

Economists predict “turmoil” if one of the Eurozone’s few paymaster economies – albeit one of its smaller members – resists the region’s third sovereign rescue.

Newedge’s Bill Blain said: “If one core euro member does it, what’s to stop other sceptics in Holland and elsewhere doing the same?... An easy prediction for next week: stress and strain across the euro peripherals again. And that means increasing worries about banks.”

“Delay in securing financial assistance to Portugal would… inevitably result in more market turmoil,” said Societe Generale’s Michala Marcussen, calling Finland a potential “thorn in the euro’s side”.

The True Finns won 19 per cent of the vote, adding to the probability that the party could be part of a new coalition government.

That is a dramatic increase from the 4.1 per cent they received in the last election in 2007.

The True Finns, led by Timo Soini, are against a permanent Eurozone bailout fund and are in the same grouping in the European parliament as UKIP, the Europe of Freedom and Democracy party.

Meanwhile, fears that the Eurozone’s peripheral economies could be damaged by interest rate rises by the European Central Bank (ECB) were dismissed by ECB executive board member Jose Manuel Gonzalez-Paramo. “A 25-basis-point increase like that on 7 April may not be convenient for those countries who are behind in their recovery, but the ECB cannot hold off its mandate because of that,” he told a Chilean newspaper.