European Interest

Finland: Government resigns a month before general elections

Flickr/FinnishGovernment/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
“The conclusion I’ve drawn is that my government has no choice but to hand in its letter of resignation. […] I’ll shoulder my responsibility,” Juha Sipilä said in a press conference.

The coalition government of Juha Sipilä has resigned this morning over the failure of its social, health care and regional government reform package.

The act of the government was a surprise movement since general elections are planned for April 14.

“It was a massive disappointment to me,” Sipilä said according to Helsingin Sanomat. “The conclusion I’ve drawn is that my government has no choice but to hand in its letter of resignation. […] I’ll shoulder my responsibility.”

Sipilä was elected president of the liberal Centre Party (Suomen Keskusta), an ally of ALDE Group, in 2012 and led the party to victory three years later. After the elections he formed a three-party centre-right coalition with the pro-European EPP-member National Coalition Party (Kokoomus) and the far-right Finns Party (Perus) a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group since 2014.

He was appointed Prime Minister on 29 May 2015, while NCP leader Petteri Orpo became Minister of Interior and Minister of Finance and the president of Finnis Party Timo Soini served as Deputy Prime Minister of Finland from 2015 to 2017 and has been Minister of Foreign Affairs since 2015.

Sipilä’s government had to fight against a deep economic crisis. As a result some major Finnish industries collapsed.

The “recipe” applied in order to address the crisis, tough austerity policies, was unpopular. A goal the government set was to reduce wage costs by 5% by 2019.

The government policies provoked mass protests and frictions inside the coalition parties. In summer 2017, Finns Party split into two parties. The Blue Reform of Soini decided to remain in the government while the current Finns Party under the new leadership of the member of the European Parliament Jussi Halla-aho joint the opposition.

Juha Sipilä tried to introduce an ambitious program of social, health care and regional government reform package.

Today in a news conference he stated he was disappointed after he realised that the government wouldn’t be able to introduce the reform.

General elections will take place as planned on April 14.

According to recent polls, conducted before the resignation of the government, the Social Democratic Party comes first with a 21,3%, followed by the two major parties of the coalition government the Centre and the NCP with 14,1% and 16,2% respectively. The third partner, the Blue Reform party faces electoral disaster as it has 1.8% of preferences.

The Finns Party still enjoy the support of the far-right and ultraconservative electorate with a 13,3%.

The Green League and the Left Alliance are in a better position in comparison with the national elections of 2015 with 13,7% and 8,9% respectively and emerge as potential government partners of the Social Democrats.

The Swedish People’s Party and the Christian Democrats have a 4,7% and 3,5% respectively.

Sipilä’s government will continue to serve as a caretaker government.

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