The Centre’s ministers in the government of Prime Minister-elect Antti Rinne (SDP) posed for a photograph in Helsinki on Wednesday, 5 June 2019. (Martti Kainulainen – Lehtikuva)

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THE CENTRE PARTY has unveiled its nominees for the ministerial positions it is to have in the government of Antti Rinne (SDP).

The Centre announced yesterday evening that its nominee for minister of finance is Mika Lintilä, for minister of economic affairs Katri Kulmuni, for minister of defence Antti Kaikkonen, for minister of culture and science Annika Saarikko and for minister of agriculture and forestry Jari Leppä.

Saarikko, the party added, will be deputised between August 2019 and August 2020 by Hanna Kosonen.

The Centre on Wednesday also gave its unanimous backing for the government programme drafted over the past couple of weeks.

With Juha Sipilä, the outgoing chairperson of the Centre Party, unwilling to take on a ministerial portfolio, the nomination process proved somewhat challenging, as presenting the second heaviest portfolio of the government to someone who may be interested in succeeding him could be interpreted as a show of support for the leadership election.

The process was complicated further by Kimmo Nuotio, a professor of Criminal Law at the University of Helsinki. Nuotio on Wednesday questioned whether Kaikkonen is eligible for a ministerial position – especially that of the minister of finance – due to the five-month suspended prison sentence imposed on him for misuse of a position of trust in 2013.

The sentence is related to the widely reported campaign finance scandal that revolved around the Centre and Finnish Youth Foundation.

“I don’t think it’d look good if the minister of finance had been found guilty of misuse of a position of trust. The misuse is linked to the handling of financial issues,” Nuotio commented on Twitter. “I’m glad that the issue was debated in public,” he added later.

Chancellor of Justice Tuomas Pöysti on Wednesday confirmed to Uusi Suomi that he was asked about his interpretation of section 60 of the Constitution of Finland, which states that ministers “shall be Finnish citizens known to be honest and competent”.

He added that he will have an opportunity to react to the ministerial nominations as the ministers are appointed by President Sauli Niinistö.

The Left Alliance, similarly, voiced its support for the government programme and announced its nominations for its two ministerial positions yesterday, saying the responsibilities of the minister of education will be shouldered by Li Andersson and those of the minister of social affairs and health jointly by Aino-Kaisa Pekonen and Hanna Sarkkinen.

Andersson justified the unusual decision to split the second portfolio by saying the party has more capable members than positions to distribute.

All of the five coalition partners have thereby given their approval for the government programme and announced their ministerial nominations. The government formation process will continue today with the election of the prime minister by the Finnish Parliament and the appointment of the ministers, as proposed by the prime minister, by President Niinistö.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi