Saturday, 18 June 2011

Finland: Disparate ”six-pack” government taking form

Finland emerged from the 17 April 2011 general election split between those who want to face up to the challenges of globalisation, the increasing need for internationalism and the requirements to show European solidarity and those who want an escape route to a bygone (”golden”) era of autarky.

At the time, I discussed the difficult politics and mathematics of the election result in the blog posts: 'Finis Finlandiae?' (18 April) and 'Finland: Eurozone shockwaves' (20 April).

Including a few false starts and self-elimination by the nationalist True Finns, the formation of a majoity government proved difficult. It has taken a month two months to agree on a majority government, the so called six-pack (a term appropriated from the EU economic governance proposals).

Number of posts

Friday, the party leaders finally concluded the negotiations on a broad coalition government, ranging from right to left. A press release from the Government Communications Unit records the distribution of the ministerial posts. I added the corresponding EP groups within brackets:

On Friday, 17 June, the negotiators to form a new government reached agreement on the new Government Programme entitled An Open, Fair and Bold Finland. The distribution of ministerial posts was also agreed on. The new government will include 19 ministers: National Coalition Party [EPP] 6, the Social Democratic Party [S&D] 6, the Left Alliance [GUE-NGL] 2, the Swedish People’s Party in Finland 2 [ALDE], the Green League [Greens-EFA] 2 and the Christian Democratic Party [EPP] 1 ministers.

Individual posts

The chairman of the National Coalition Party and the outgoing finance minister Jyrki Katainen will lead this motley crew as prime minister, representing Finland in the European Council.

Helsingin Sanomat International reports how the individual posts were allotted between the political parties and discusses some of the likely ministers. Most of the new participants in the EU Council meetings will be nominated by their parties today, Saturday.

Helsingin Sanomat reports (in Finnish) that the Swedish People's Party already nominated party chairman Stefan Wallin to become the minister of defence and the lawyer and MP Anna-Maja Henriksson to take over the Ministry of Justice. The article contains informed speculation about probable ministers.

The Government Communications Unit records the allocation of posts including details about the distribution of responsibilities (in Finnish).

Government programme

You can check the English web page of the government for possible additions.

The new government signals austerity and solidarity by cutting its pay cheques by 5 per cent, as reported by Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish).

The Finnish News Agency STT records PM-elect Jyrki Katainen determined to reduce the country's level of government debt and highlights some of the agreed budget cuts plus main political agreements.

The Finnish public broadcaster YLE offers a quick view of some of the main measures.

YLE presents more details about added and selective social spending, 'inclusion' in EU jargon.


Despite Katainen's professed aims of sound public finances and economic reform, YLE quotes economists critical of half-hearted promises of structural reforms in the compromise programme of the new government.

The Centre Party [ALDE], led by outgoing PM Mari Kiviniemi, chose to remain outside after its election defeat, and it is in the process of transforming itself into an opposition party. Kiviniemi has criticised the new government for lacking direction, will and vision (YLE, in Finnish).

The True Finns [EFD], led by Timo Soini (ex MEP), mushroomed in opposition and ultimately decided to remain clear of government resonsibilities. Today, the chairman gets an opportunity to lambast the new government at the first party congress after the unprecedented election victory (Helsingin Sanomat, in Finnish).

Soini's seat in the European Parliament and the Europe of Freedom and Democracy group has already been taken over by Sampo Terho.

Official government programme

The official government programme reflects the disparate political base, a six-pack with half a dozen distinct beverages. Running to 89 pages, the laboriously negotiated programme could almost be called a tome. The document is still available in Finnish only.

Ralf Grahn

P.S. The Criminal Justice Careers Guide blog offers articles about the US crime scene and the criminal justice system.

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