Tuesday December 05, 2023

Fraught coalition talks likely to form new govt

Published : 04 Apr 2023, 02:47

  DF News Desk
Leaders of the major political parties on the election day. Photo: Finnish Parliament by Hanne Salonen.

Whether the center-right parties in Finland would be able to form a cabinet or whether a coalition of the center-left Suomen Sosialidemokraattinen Puolue (Social Democratic Party of Finland-SDP) and conservatives - with some small parties - would take over remained unclear on Monday, analyzed news agency Xinhua.

Petteri Orpo, chair of the conservative Kansallinen Kokoomus (National Coalition Party-NCP), said he would begin coalition talks after the Easter break.

On Sunday, voters in Finland cast their ballots in a closely contested parliamentary election. The opposition Kokoomus came out on top, claiming 48 seats in the 200-member Parliament, followed by the right-wing populist Perussuomalaiset (Finns Party) with 46 seats, and the SDP, the leading party in the outgoing coalition, with 43 seats.

The Suomen Keskusta ( Centre Party of Finland), Vihreä Liitto (Green League) and Vasemmistoliito (Left Alliance) suffered major losses.

The party with the highest number of parliamentary seats will form the government. In absence of a clear majority - 101 seats - it is inevitable for the parties to enter into coalition talks.

Jenni Karimäki, a researcher at Helsinki University, told the news agency STT that the conservatives and the Finns could fairly easily agree on economic policy issues, but major disagreements prevail between them on immigration, climate change issues, and European Union policies.

"Meanwhile, as for cooperation between the conservatives and the SDP, the situation is the opposite", said Karimaki. The conservatives and the SDP differ on the measures needed to stabilize the Finnish economy, Karimäki added.

On Monday, both the chair of Keskusta, Annika Saarikko, and the chair of Vihreä Liitto, Maria Ohisalo, said that their parties would go into opposition following their losses.

Markku Jokisipilä, director of the Center for Parliamentary Studies at Turku University, told a Finnish language newspaper Turun Sanomat that a possible refusal by the Keskusta to take government responsibility would weaken the chances of the Perussuomalaiset to get into the government and could lead to the formation of a coalition of the Kokoomus and the SDP, especially "if the Vihreä Liitto would be willing to take part after their major losses."

For a possible coalition option between the Kokoomus and the Perussuomalaiset, the Suomenruotsalainenkansanpuolue (Swedish People’s Party of Finland-RKP)'s attitude could be important, Elina Kestilä-Kekkonen, professor of political science at Tampere University, told national broadcaster Yle radio.

The Kokoomus and the Perussuomalaiset would have 94 MPs based on initial election results, which are to be confirmed on Wednesday. However, with the help of SuomenKristillisdemokraatit (Christian Democrats of Finland) and Liike Nyt (Movement Now), they would reach 100 seats and would thus need the RKP.

Despite the huge problems to be tackled during the coalition talks, the likelihood of a minority government is very low, Jokisipilä said. The last time Finland had a minority government was in 1976.