Finnish Government crisis resolved?
Wednesday, 14 June 2017
After Mr. Jussi Halla-aho, a staunch critic of both Finland’s EU and immigration policy had won the chairmanship of the Finns, the coalition governments two other party chiefs, PM Juha Sipilä of the Centre Party and Mr. Petteri Orpo of the Coalition Party, announced that it would be impossible for the tri-party coalition to continue.
However, before Mr. Sipilä could go and present his government’s resignation to President Sauli Niinistö, former chairman of the Finns and current Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Timo Soini organised a poltical move that surprised everyone in Finland.
Instead of accepting his own party’s change of leadership Mr. Soini gathered 19 of the 37 Finns MP’s and left the party. The group of 20 included all four of the Finns with a ministerial position in the current government. They quickly organised themselves in to a new parliamentary group called the “New Alternative”. After MR Soini informed PM Sipilä – although most analysts believe the plan had been formulated in collusion with the two other party leaders – the Prime Minister decided that their was no reason to break up the government coalition after all.
Mr. Halla-aho is now chairman of a party and a 15-member parliamentary group – as two other MPs left the Finns group but have not (yet) joined the New Alternative – that is smaller then the break-away faction. With the support of the New Alternative the government will continue with a parliamentary majority of 106/200. The New Alternative faction is formally headed by Mr. Simon Elo, but it is widely seen as a the tool of Mr. Soini who will continue as Foreign Minister.
While the governmental crisis seems to have been averted with this maneuvre, the Finns and the New Alternative will continue to fight – among other things – over the control of the Finns financial assests and allocation of public funds to political parties and parliamentary groups.
At any rate the government now looks likely to continue until the next parliamentary election which is to be held in April 2019.