Several hundred people who tried to cast their ballots for a far-right party in hotly-contested parliamentary elections in Finland accidentally voted for the country's Communist Party instead, which on Tuesday said it was happy to accept the votes from its ideological foes.
There was speculation in the Finnish media that the mix-up, which took place in Helsinki's suburban voting district of Uusimaa, could have cost Jussi Halla-aho's Finns Party a parliamentary seat, therefore preventing it from matching the haul secured by Antti Rinne's victorious Social Democrats (SDP), which took 40 seats to the far-right's 39.
"Of course we are happy for the votes," General Secretary of the Finnish Communist Party (SKP), Tiina Sandberg, told Efe in a statement.
Sandberg said, however, that the error had "unfortunately" not cause any loss of seats for the Finns Party in Uusimaa.
"Our party's local campaigning was also good, but it is quite obvious that some of these votes were not for our candidate Kavevi Wahrman, whose earlier record for votes is something like 300 votes, now he got 500," she added.
Wahrman obtained 49 votes in the Uusimaa constituency in the 2015 parliamentary elections, when he ran for the Worker's Party of Finland, according to voting records.
Running with the SKP this year, however, Wahrman took 483 of the votes.
According to Finnish media, the error occurred when voters penciled in the number 98 on their ballot papers, which was the candidate number for Finns Party leader Halla-aho.
What they forgot was that Halla-aho was not running in the Uusimaa district but rather in downtown Helsinki, a separate voting district.
Several people, unaware of this, later lamented on social media that their votes had gone to candidate number 98 in Uusimaa, who, in a stroke of irony, just happened to be a communist.
"It's incredible that there are people stupid enough to vote for Wahrman. This costs the Finns Party some 400 votes, with which we could have achieved a seventh deputy in Uusumaa," Halla-aho, an MEP, railed at his party's top brass, according to the Finish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.
Halla-aho, whose party ran on an anti-immigration ticket, took 30,527 votes in the capital constituency.
Nationally, the Finns Party finished with just 0.2 percentage points behind the SDP, with 538,731 votes to the SDP's 545,544.
It, therefore, became the second power in the Suomen eduskunta, the country's unicameral chamber.
The conservative National Coalition came close behind with 523,446 votes.
The SDP, which campaigned against austerity, is now poised to try and form a functioning government.EFE-EFE