The parliamentary system…
Finnish parliamentary elections were held in April, following the resignation of Prime Minister Juha Sipila. He resigned in March after his Center-Right government failed to pass needed social welfare program reforms.
Finland’s state broadcaster YLE, reported on March 8 that the Prime Minister took full responsibility for the failure, stating in an impromptu news conference that “It has been a huge disappointment to me, “adding that “it had been one of our most important projects.”
The focus of this election is primarily on the economy, social welfare reforms, taxation. and climate change, to name a few. The major parties—Center, National Coalition and the Social Democrats—sought early to downplay the debate on immigration, instead wanted to focus on discussing “climate change” policies.
Each party has voiced their commitment to emissions restrictions that would keep warming to 1.5 degrees: however, the Finns party clearly stated the obvious: Finnish emissions have had a negligible effect on the climate. Jussi Hallo-Aho (PS) insisted that: “Finland can’t save the world: “Finland is not able to save the world by anything it implements, but Finland is able to strangle itself to death by the measures implemented by other parties.”
The Finns party’s more reasoned proposals in dealing with the supposed climate problem, in comparison with the others, resonated with voters which can be seen in the polling. It caught the rest completely off guard. That, as well as their immigration proposals and the belief that Finnish political culture has been corrupted, helped them to secure 39 seats in the new parliament, narrowly coming in second behind the Social Democrats.
Multiple smaller parties claimed “victory” in the election. The Left Alliance gained 4 seats and saw an increase of 40,000 votes. Party chair, Li Anderson, said it was an uptick in support since the last parliamentary elections. The Greens party under the new leadership of Pekka Haavisto, had their best showing ever by gaining 5 seats and increasing their total to 20.
The Blue Reform, a new party comprised of former MP’s and government ministers that split from the Finns party nearly two years ago after Jussi Hallo-aho became party chairman and failed to gain a single seat.
The SDP party was in the mood for celebrations after ending its 20-year hiatus from political power. It had the most votes and won a total of 40 seats in parliament. However, this was the first time in Finnish Parliamentary elections that a winning party failed to achieve 20 percent of the vote. The SDP received 17.7 percent, just 0.2 percent ahead of the Finns party, the biggest political spoiler of the night.
The Centre party’s chairman and former prime minister, Sipila, stepped down as the party’s chair after his lackluster performance of only 13.8% of the vote in pushing his government’s social program reforms, as well as election results. Sometimes no deed goes unpunished.
National Coalition Chairman, Petteri Orpo (KOK), stated that he was pleased with the one additional seat his party picked up, saying that it was a “small election victory”, and that “it was a difficult early political year” for them. The NC party, in spite of coming in third place as -0.5% behind the Finns party has been touted the likely pick in a new coalition government since the closing of election night. According to the Helsingin-Sanomat, while agreeing on many issues, they differed in views on retirement, care for the elderly, and taxation still represent major hurdles for the two parties to hash out.
Signs of bitterness and frayed tempers began to emerge after nearly two weeks since elections. The Social Democrats insisted that the Finns party be vacated from its traditional seating arrangement that it has had in parliament for well over a decade and go to the “far-right”. It raised the ire of its the party chairman, who insisted: “There is no place for the party to be upset, but this is a very small-minded protest and teasing from other parties. The reason behind this might be over the election results.” After the joint parliamentary group voted, the Swedish People’s Party of Finland (RKP) were handed the Finns party’s seating arrangement.
On Sunday, May 5, SDP chairman Antti Rinne met with the Christian Democrats, Finns Party and Centre Party. He began discussing parties’ answers to a list of questions he distributed after the election. He will talk with the Greens, Left Alliance, Swedish Party and the National Coalition Party on Monday.
The very first question on Rinne’s list dealt with “climate change” and whether Finland would
commit to keeping global warming at 1.5 degrees and become carbon neutral by 2035.
EU issues followed: reforming social security, healthcare, and social services. The last question asked if they were prepared to participate in a Social Democratic-led majority government, and did they have a threshold for their participation.
According to the Helsingin-Sanomat, the Center party’s negotiating team was moving in the direction of Rinne’s government saying, “It would be very difficult to be in opposition with the Finns party and Left Alliance (VAS).” One of the conditions for joining was the SPD’s implementation of some of its policies, “promising 1 billion in expenditures financed solely on the basis of improved employment.” But as of Sunday evening, no party is being ruled out of consideration.