Petteri Orpo (left), the chairperson of the National Coalition, listened as his counterpart from the Social Democrats, Antti Rinne, talked to the media about the upcoming coalition formation process in the Parliament House in Helsinki on Thursday, 8 May 2019. (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)

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PRELIMINARY TALKS between the Social Democrats and National Coalition fell through due to differences of opinion on economic and tax policy, confirms Petteri Orpo, the chairperson of the National Coalition.

“A particular reason for [the collapse] was our stricter approach to economic policy,” he stated in a press conference in the Parliament House on Wednesday.

Orpo also revealed that the parties sought to find common ground on economic, employment and tax policy and objectives for the electoral term for a total of five hours between Monday and Tuesday.

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“But the tax policy outlines that we announced in our campaign and presented as our answers to the leader of the government formation process […] were evidently far from what the leader of the process thinks about the whole situation,” he stated, drawing attention to measures to balance public finances and raise the employment rate to 75 per cent by 2023.

Antti Rinne, the chairperson of the Social Democrats, announced yesterday his party will begin talks over forming a new coalition government with the Centre, Greens, Left Alliance and Swedish People’s Party. If the parties can find an agreement on a government programme, the ruling coalition would hold 117 of the 200 seats in the Finnish Parliament.

Both Li Andersson, the chairperson of the Left Alliance, and Juha Sipilä, the chairperson of the Centre Party, gauged that the process will be far from straightforward.

Jussi Halla-aho, the chairperson of the Finns Party, accused the Social Democrats of trying to provoke the right-wing party to exclude itself from the government formation process by moving its members to the far right of the session hall of the Finnish Parliament.

“We have been ready to co-operate throughout the process,” he stated in a press release on Wednesday.

The seating arrangement, he added, was revamped to ensure the five parties that began the coalition formation talks yesterday do not have to cite real reasons, such as “immigration or climate policy, or overall image” to rule out the Finns Party.

The re-arrangement was carried out to guarantee easy access to to translation services to the Swedish People’s Party.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi