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On 12th June, debate programme BBC World Questions on the BBC World Service is heading to Helsinki at a fascinating time in Finland’s history.

In April, the country voted in a general election, resulting in the left wing Social Democratic Party of Finland winning a razor-thin victory over the nationalist Finns Party, which campaigned on an anti-immigration agenda. In a dramatic result, only one parliamentary seat separates the two parties. The Social Democrats will now head a government for the first time in 16 years.

Which parties will now join the new coalition? Which political direction should the government take? The Social Democrats have pledged to raise taxes to fund the nation’s pension and welfare system, and to tackle inequality. But Finland faces other problems: rising fears over immigration, the environment, and concerns over the country’s ageing population.

Chairing the debate at Finlandia Hall in Helsinki, the BBC’s Jonathan Dimbleby will be joined by a panel of influential politicians and thinkers who will be debating questions from the audience. The panel will include:

> Ville Skinnari – Vice Chairman, Social Democratic Party
> Riikka Purra – The Finns Party
> Elina Lepomäki – The National Coalition Party
> Jari Hanska – Freelance Journalist

Mary Hockaday, Controller, BBC World Service English, says: “We are very excited to bring BBC World Questions to Helsinki at such an interesting political moment for Finland, and we are really keen to get under the skin of the issues that really matter to the Finns.

“Discussion and debate is at the heart of the World Service, and our event in Helsinki will allow people to have their voices heard by listeners around the world, and put their questions directly to our panel.”

Martin Gilbert, British Council Director of the Nordics, says: “We are delighted to be partnering with the BBC in bringing World Questions to Helsinki. This programme generates space for a frank and open debate on current affairs, which supports the British Council’s objective of promoting cultural relations among people worldwide. The British Council has been working with our neighbours in Finland for over half a century and we will continue to do so. We believe that connecting people both in Finland and globally makes a powerful and lasting contribution to a more inclusive and connected world.”

BBC World Questions is an English language event, created in partnership with the British Council and will be recorded for radio broadcast worldwide. As a cultural relations and educational organisation and partner of the BBC World Service, the British Council helps to enable a platform where the general public can join a democratic debate on a global forum.