Thursday, 25 April, 2019

Rinne sees talks to form new gov't "even easy"

15 Apr 2019, 20:02 ( 10 days ago) | updated: 16 Apr 2019, 03:17 ( 9 days ago)

DF-Xinhua Report
Social Democratic Party leader Antti Rinne shows up in the Small Parliament building in Helsinki, April 14, 2019.(Xinhua/Finnish Parliament/Hanne Salonen).

Antti Rinne, chairman of the Suomen Sosialidemokraattinen Puolue (Social Democratic Party of Finland -SDP), said on Monday he hoped to be able to form a new government by the end of May. 

The SDP emerged as the largest party in parliament following the general election on Sunday, with 40 seats out of the 200 in total. 

It was followed narrowly by the populist Perussuomalaiset (Finns Party), with 39 seats, and the Kansallinen Kokoomus (National Coalition Party), with 38 seats. 

The Suomen Keskusta (Centre Party of Finland) led by the current prime minister Juha Sipilä suffered a major defeat and secured 31 seats, which is the smallest parliamentary group for over 100 years.

The check-up counting of ballots on Monday brought no changes.

In Lapland, a candidate of the Vihreä Liitto (Green League) was only a few votes behind a Keskusta candidate and in Pori a Keskusta candidate just behind a SDP candidate, but Monday's check-up counting confirmed Sunday's results. The final results will be officially confirmed on Wednesday.

 POLARIZED HELSINKI

 Helsinki, the capital region, became a prime example of the polarization of the country. Observers on Monday said the polarization of Helsinki should be in no one's interest.

The populist Perussuomalaiset narrowly became the second biggest party in parliament, but only got some 12 percent of the votes in Helsinki. Its backing roots mainly in a few suburbs where the impact of segregation and a large immigrant population has been tangible. 

While the populist leader Jussi Halla-aho won 30,527 votes in the city and exceeded the personal record attained by President Sauli Niinistö when he was a Kokoomus MP candidate earlier, the value-liberal character of the capital increased at the same time.

The Vihreä Liitto replaced the Kokoomus as the largest here, and got 23.5 percent of the votes. Their backing in the national level was much smaller. 

As part of the trend, Vasemmistoliito (Left Alliance) grew in Helsinki, and also most of the Kokoomus and social democratic candidates elected in Helsinki were value-liberals.

COALITION NEGOTIATION

Likely to be the next prime minister, Rinne told local media on Monday that unofficial contacts between the parties began already prior to the election. Rinne is considered an experienced trade union negotiator and he said he has a "hunch" that there could be political will for an easy way forward.

Rinne said earlier on Monday he saw the inclusion of the populist Perussuomalaiset in the government as "unlikely".  

The chairman of the anti-immigration Perussuomalaiset, Jussi Halla-aho said on Monday his party would be willing to make compromises on the immigration issue.

Local commentators have noted the social democrats are likely to try to form a cabinet that includes the Vihreä Liitto, either the Kokoomus or the Keskusta, and a smaller non-socialist party, probably the Suomenruotsalainenkansanpuolue (Swedish People’s Party of Finland-RKP). 

The inclusion of the also-winning Vasemmistoliito is not that certain. The smaller than expected winning margin of the social democrats has improved the bargaining position of both the centrists and the conservatives.

Despite their bad result, the Keskusta did not announce an outright option to stay in opposition. Talking to international media, Markku Jokisipila, director of the Center for Parliamentary Studies of Turku University, noted the traditional social policy line of the Keskusta has favored cooperation with the political left. 

The Keskusta´ s defeat was attributed to a public reaction against its right wing economic and social policies that Sipilä started pushing for in 2015.

Rinne said on Monday he wanted to improve the mood of the labor market to counter the impact of Sipilä's governmental policies. He pledged to offer a framework for labor market talks that would create a joint vista for employers and wage earners.

The social democrats would have difficulty in accommodating the Kokoomus 's economic policies to their agenda. Leading Kokoomus leaders repeated on Monday that they would not join a government that increases taxes.