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Timo Soini, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, was surrounded by members of the media at Helsinki Airport on Sunday.
Timo Soini, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, was surrounded by members of the media at Helsinki Airport on Sunday.

Timo Soini (PS), the Minister for Foreign Affairs, is confident that his decision to hand over the reins of the Finns Party in June will not spark a political crisis in Finland.

“The leadership election won’t lead to a government crisis. If political differences of opinion become polarised by the mid-term session, that can lead to a government crisis,” he stated during a hastily organised press conference at Helsinki Airport on Sunday.

Such critical issues, he estimated, include taxation and family benefits.

“We’ll have to take a look at tax policy. It also seems that some feel the need to profile themselves in the area of family policy,” said Soini. “But I’m confident that the worst is behind us when it comes to the cost cuts and adjustment policy of the Government.”

Kimmo Grönlund, a professor of political science at Åbo Akademi University, was one of a number of political analysts to predict that the looming change in leadership will herald difficult times for the Government of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre).

Soini underscored that the future of the ruling three-party coalition will depend primarily on policy issues.

“I’m not particularly concerned. Because of a number of big issues, the care reform and whatnot, the [Government’s] capability doesn’t depend only on the Finns Party – it depends on everyone. The election result obliges the Government to get things done. We haven’t had a majority government that’s capable of making such decisions for a long time. Losing that capability would be very regrettable, as it would lead to months of idleness,” he reminded.

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The chairpersons of the other two ruling parties, Sipilä (Centre) and Petteri Orpo (NCP), both drew attention to the importance of continuing co-operation with the Finns Party on Sunday.

“Major issues are on the table: employment, the economy, the care reform,” said Orpo.

Soini revealed that he did not make his final decision until late last week. “The party is in good condition, financially independent, functional. The municipal elections will bring a two-digit vote haul, there’s no reason for concern also in that respect. [The Finns Party’s] men and women will take it from there.”

He also refrained from voicing his support for any of the candidates expected to throw their hats in the leadership ring. “I reckon it’s better to let people announce their candidacy first,” stated Soini.

His successor, he estimated, will have to have “a thick skin”, a high tolerance for mental discomfort and the willingness to develop their expertise. “The Finns Party’s chairmanship, it’s quite the taxing job. There’s a bit of concern and grief, with the people being so colourful.”

Soini also declined to shed light on his plans for the future.

“We’ll see. I’ve been doing this for a long time. I suppose there’s a job for me somewhere. I’ve been thinking that I’d stay on as an MP and, if it’s so decided, as the Minister for Foreign Affairs until the end of the this term. I don’t know what will happen then,” he said.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi

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