Monday

26th Aug 2019

Finnish government collapses ahead of EU presidency

  • Finnish voters are facing national elections on 14 April as well as EU elections on 26 May while the country is preparing to hold the EU's rotating six-month presidency from 1 July. (Photo: stopherjones)

Finnish prime minister Juha Sipila's centre-right government's surprise resignation on Friday (8 March) kicks off a political hot season in the otherwise cool Nordic country.

Voters are facing national elections on 14 April as well as EU elections on 26 May, while the country is also preparing to hold the EU's rotating six-month presidency from 1 July.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Finnish prime minister Juha Sipila, now in a caretaker role, would still be in charge of the planning for Finland's EU presidency. (Photo: Magnus Fröderberg/norden.org)

The resignation was a personal decision of the prime minister and came after the governing coalition failed to agree on a major social and health reform, 'Sote', which has been discussed for years.

Some speculate that the resignation was a political gamble by Sipila.

Sipila told Finnish public broadcaster Yle on Saturday that he will not seek re-election as chair of the Centre Party, if support for the party does not increase at the April elections.

The latest Yle poll published on 8 March found support for Sipila's Centre Party had dropped to 14.1 percent, leaving it the third largest, behind the Social Democrat party at 21.3 percent and Sipila's governing alliance partner, the conservative National Coalition Party (NCP) at 16.2 percent.

The result for the conservatives is also bad. It is the party's weakest performance in four years and the lowest during conservative leader Petteri Orpo's chairmanship.

The populist Finns Party is gaining support, and stand at 13.3 percent, while the Greens drop to 13.7 percent, but still hold the position as the fourth largest party in Finland, according to the Yle poll.

Finland organises health and social care through 295 municipalities, which is seen as inefficient.

It is estimated that by 2030 some 26 percent of the population will be aged over 65, up from just under 20 percent now.

The previous three Finnish prime ministers have all attempted to push the Sote reform through, without succeeding.

Sipila's government aimed to centralise the responsibility in 18 elected regional authorities and to give patients "freedom of choice" in choosing from a range of public and private health care providers.

Opponents fear that private providers will be able to cherrypick patients and are worried over the level of service provided for people living in the outskirts of the northern European country.

The opposition Social Democratic party leader Antti Rinne, who may become the next premier, returned to duties less than two weeks ago after after a long period of sick leave. The 56-year old politician fell ill with an infection while on a New Year holiday in Spain.

Sipila, now in a caretaker role, will still be in charge of the planning for Finland's time in charge of the EU presidency.

"We have a jointly drafted program for the EU presidency and we'll continue to work on that together," Sipila told YLE TV, adding that he would oversee the start of the EU presidency even if still in in a caretaker role by 1 July.

In neighbouring Sweden it took over four months to form a new government, which would not depend on support from the populist Sweden democrats.

Opinion

Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?

There can be no more excuses for business. They will be held for responsible for their failure to take action to prevent the risk of human and labour rights through their supply chains.

Magazine

Bioeconomy is a win-win strategy for Finland

"The big problem in the world today is a lack of resources and a lack of bio-diversity," says Finnish environment minister Kimmo Tiilikainen. His country plans to produce what the world needs the most.

News in Brief

  1. Ocean Viking to disembark in Malta after ordeal
  2. Germany joins France in world outcry on Brazil fires
  3. British people lose faith in Brexit deal
  4. Brexit hardliners want further changes to EU deal
  5. German manufacturers confirm fear of recession
  6. Belgian socialists and liberals scrap over EU post
  7. Fall in EU migration leading to UK skills shortages
  8. Switzerland makes post-Brexit flight preparations

Investigation

The EU committee's great 'per diem' charade

Around 30 members of European Economic Social Committee, who live and work primarily in Brussels or nearby, have claimed €1.47m in a 'daily subsistence' allowance from European taxpayers to cover accommodation, food and local transport for meetings held in Brussels.

EU ends silence on Hong Kong protests

The EU, in league with Canada, has spoken out on the Hong Kong protests after months of silence in what one expert called "a clear expression of support for the protesters".

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Spain heading for yet another general election
  2. EU to discuss Brazil beef ban over Amazon fires
  3. 'Our house is burning,' Macron says on Amazon fires
  4. What happens when trafficking survivors get home
  5. EU states and Russia clash on truth of WW2 pact
  6. EU considers new rules on facial recognition
  7. EU to pledge Africa security funds at G7 summit
  8. Letter from the EESC on per diem article

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us