Chairpersons Annika Saarikko of the Centre and Maria Ohisalo of the Greens attended a plenary session in the Finnish Parliament on 20 February 2023. Both party leaders have suggested their parties are opposition-bound after suffering significant losses in the parliamentary elections, complicating the looming coalition formation process. (Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva)

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ANNOUNCEMENTS by the Centre and Green League have made the task of forming a ruling majority all the more daunting for Petteri Orpo, the chairperson of the National Coalition.

The Centre and Green League both indicated yesterday in the wake of their dismal performance in the parliamentary elections that they are likely opposition-bound, potentially limiting the options in the coalition formation negotiations.

Annika Saarikko, the chairperson of the Centre, on Monday stated in a press release that the only conclusion to draw from the election results – the party seeing its vote share fall by 2.5 percentage points to 11.3 per cent and seat number by 8 to 23 – is that the party’s place is in the opposition.

“You need public support for coalition co-operation and difficult decisions. We do not have that at the moment,” she argued, adding that the party would begin work to “restore trust” immediately.

Maria Ohisalo, the chairperson of the Green League, yesterday declared that the party’s threshold for joining a ruling coalition is “extremely high” after it saw its vote share shrink by 4.5 points and seat number by 7 to 13.

The result, she conceded, was a “massive loss” for the Greens.

“We will not join a ruling coalition that makes cuts in education, hits the brakes on efforts to fight the climate crisis or biodiversity loss, or increases inequality. The Green League refuses to green-wash the policy decisions of such a government,” she outlined in a press release.

The Centre ruling out coalition co-operation appears to decrease the likelihood of a right-wing government founded on co-operation between the National Coalition and Finns Party. The Christian Democratic Party’s five seats will not be enough to secure a majority for the coalition, meaning it would require support from the Swedish People’s Party.

Anna-Maja Henriksson, the chairperson of the Swedish People’s Party, has not outright ruled out co-operation with the Finns Party, but she has stated that the party will not support a government that pursues policies based on the values of the Finns Party.

Without the Greens, the National Coalition and Social Democrats would require support from both the Swedish People’s Party and Christian Democrats in order to secure even a slim, few-seat majority in the Parliament.

The Left Alliance and National Coalition are widely believed to be too far apart to fit into the same ruling coalition.

Sari Essayah, the chairperson of the Christian Democrats on Monday outlined that the party wants the next government to implement major structural reforms in the labour markets and social security system.

Helsingin Sanomat on Monday reminded that the Centre was opposition-bound also after the parliamentary elections of 2019, when it lost 18 of its 49 seats in the Parliament. Juha Sipilä, at the time the chairperson of the Centre, stated that the party was “clearly headed” to the opposition but ultimately took on the portfolio of the minister of finance in the five-party ruling coalition formed by Antti Rinne (SDP).

Antti Häkkänen, a deputy chairperson of the National Coalition, on Monday expressed his hope that all parties take part in the coalition formation process given what he described as a “serious situation” for Finland.

“We’re hoping that all parties, including the Centre, keep an open mind,” he said on YLE A-studio.

The process will formally begin after the newly elected lawmakers begin their work after Easter. Orpo, as the leader of the largest party in the Parliament, will be appointed as the Speaker of the Parliament on 12 April, a day before the parliamentary session is opened by President Sauli Niinistö.

All parliamentary groups are expected to convene later next week to officially ask Orpo to initiate the coalition formation talks. Experts expect the talks to be tense and take at least a couple of weeks.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT?

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