Monday June 12, 2017 will be remembered as the day that the Finnish coalition government collapsed due to qualms over the political sustainability of extreme nationalism. On Tuesday, the day after, newspapers are chock-full of the repercussions of the breakup.
Readers of head daily Helsingin Sanomat may be stricken by the wide smiles of Finance Minister Petteri Orpo and Prime Minister Juha Sipilä beaming out from the paper’s front spread. As the heads of the National Coalition Party and the Centre Party respectively, the two men were on live television Monday evening detailing some of the reasons why the populist – now ultra-nationalist – Finns Party was kicked out of government.
The grinning politicos, Sipilä especially, are now tasked with reassembling the Finnish government and replacing the Finns Party’s Parliament seats with two opposition parties. HS illustrates the possible new configuration with a colour graph that switches out the Finns Party’s 37 seats with a hypothetical and meagre 15 new seats (10 from the Swedish People’s Party, 5 from the Christian Democrats) – a setup that would allow the new coalition to squeak through with 101 Parliament seats out of 200.
In line with Orpo’s comments on Monday about the government parties’ unshared value base, HS writes in depth on one of the main reasons for the NCP’s and Centre’s discontent: namely the infamous blog posts written by none other than the new Finns Party leader, Jussi Halla-aho, who was convicted of hate speech for his published thoughts in 2012.
Open EU doors, instability
With a broader take on the dramatic situation, financial paper Kauppalehti leads with a focus on Finland’s relationship with the European Union, itself in the throes of a value-based tangle.
The paper’s ingress sums up a possible future: “[Finland’s] commitment to the EU will deepen, the number of refugees will rise and Vaasa will get a new hospital if the little parties join government.”
The “little parties” are of course Anna-Maja Henriksson’s SPP and Sari Essayah’s Christian Democrats, whose own party lines will soon come into play if chosen to help co-steer the country. But KL does write that without defectors from the once-dominant and certainly more numerous Finns Party, the new two-pronged replacement strategy along with the two existing partners would make for an unstable government.
“All in all this is a political crisis, not a significant factor for the economy,” asset management strategist Ari Aaltonen says in KL.
Next in line
And finally another, equally acute aspect of the splintered government has to do with the ministerial gaps – five in all – that the exiting Finns Party will soon leave behind unfilled.
Tabloid Ilta-Sanomat leads with perhaps the main position of contention, that is the job of Minister of Foreign Affairs, still momentarily held by erstwhile Finns Party doyen Timo Soini. IS holds that it is Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee chair and Centre Party presidential candidate Matti Vanhanen who has the best chance of taking over from Soini.
The Swedish People’s Party will be gaining two ministers, the Christian Democrats will be represented by one minister and both the Centre and NCP will bring in one new minister each, IS writes – if the new talks don’t reconfigure the number of ministers as well.
The paper’s conjectural stabs at new portfolio-holders are a hodgepodge of incoming hopefuls. It is not even clear which ministerial positions each party will have as its domain, IS reminds readers.
The next step is for Prime Minister Sipilä to ask President Sauli Niinistö for the government’s resignation, which will occur on Tuesday.