by Kristofer Jäntti
After brief negotiations, the Centre Party Chief Juha Sipilä, finally announced the composition for the Finnish government. The government will be formed by the three largest parties: The Centre Party, the Finns Party and the National Coalition Party. This coalition boots the Social Democrats and Christian Democrats into opposition as well as ends the almost 40 years the Swedish People’s Party (RKP) has enjoyed government responsibility. RKP, the champion of the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland, probably found it difficult to cooperate with the Finns party as the latter have called for abolishing compulsory Swedish lessons in Finnish Speaking schools (pakkoruotsi).
The most intriguing issue is that the Finns Party can finally exercise political power in government. While in opposition the party has profiled itself as the party of choice for those critical of the EU and current immigration policy. This and its conservative value base, will likely lead to some friction with the liberal faction of the National Coalition Party. The latter has positioned itself as one of the more pro EU-integration party in the Parliament.
The distribution of ministerial positions is still open and the coalition need to decide how the portfolios are distributed among the parties, as well who in the parties will have a chance in wielding ministerial power. However, in Finnish political convention would make the Finns Party’s Timo Soini the Finance Minister, whereas the National Coalition’s Alexander Stubb is likely to get another stab as Foreign Minister. Moreover, the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat speculated that the Centre Party heavyweight, Olli Rehn, the former EU Commissioner and Vice-President, will become the Minister of Employment and the Economy.
The Finnish economy is forecasted to be among the slowest to grow in the union, while Prime Minister Sipilä recently noted that the government budget needs to be “balanced” by sizeable six billion euros – mostly through cuts in spending. It will be interesting to see if the economic-lefty Finns Party’s support will remain at the current levels if Soini will be forced to implement austerity measures.