Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) met with members of the public while campaigning in Hämeenlinna on Friday, 8 March 2019. (Roni Rekomaa – Lehtikuva)


PRIME MINISTER Juha Sipilä (Centre) set off a flurry of speculation by submitting a request for resignation on behalf of his government to President Sauli Niinistö on Friday.

Politico, an American online publication covering politics around the globe, interpreted the move as an attempt by the prime minister to kick-start his wavering re-election campaign with no more than roughly a month to go until the parliamentary elections.

“With his heavy reform agenda ditched, the Finnish leader should now have a freer hand to re-launch his misfiring re-election drive,” it reported on Sunday.

The Centre Party has recently seen its popularity plummet to 14.1 per cent – seven percentage points lower than its vote share in the most recent parliamentary elections – in polls commissioned by both Alma Media and YLE. The Social Democratic Party, by contrast, is polling at almost 21.5 per cent according to both polls.

“The image of a fresh start might help,” Teivo Teivainen, a professor of world politics at the University of Helsinki, commented to Politico.

Thomas Karv, a political scientist at Åbo Akademi University, viewed that the resignation was “pretty much the last chance” to halt the negative trend of the Centre. “Time will tell if he made the right call,” he added to Politico.

Sipilä on Friday stated that he saw no choice but to hand in the request for resignation after it became evident that the government was unable to carry out one of its key projects: the social, health care and regional government reform.

“It was a massive disappointment for me,” he stated in a press conference.

The resignation request was accepted by President Niinistö, who also asked the government to continue on a caretaker basis.

Marko Junkkari, a political journalist at Helsingin Sanomat, similarly interpreted the resignation as an attempt to re-claim the political initiative ahead of the looming elections. The Centre Party, he pointed out in his analysis, wasted no time in announcing it will unveil its vision for the social and health care system this week.

The resignation was a blow especially to the National Coalition, according to Junkkari.

Sipilä handed in his resignation at 10am on Friday, only two-and-a-half hours before Speaker of the Parliament Paula Risikko (NCP) was to address the media to announce what earlier last week had become the inevitable fate of the social, health care and regional government reform.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi