Jussi Halla-aho, a former chairperson of the Finns Party, was photographed in the Parliament House in Helsinki on 6 April 2023. By insisting on heading to the opposition, the Centre is “sabotaging” the formation of a right-wing ruling coalition that could pursue policies that benefit rural regions, he wrote recently on Facebook. (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)


THE CENTRE and Finns Party have continued their bickering over the former’s role in policy making in the wake of the parliamentary elections held in Finland on 2 April.

Jussi Halla-aho, a former chairperson of the Finns Party, on Thursday said the Centre’s insistence on heading to the opposition equates to a tantrum over its loss of votes to the Finns Party and National Coalition.

“The Centre is also hurt by voters who gave what it believes were its votes to someone else,” he analysed on Facebook. “The Centre is very irrationally taking revenge for these wrongs on the 11 per cent of voters who continued to place confidence in it and wanted it to promote their interests.”

Such behaviour, he cautioned, will not increase the party’s credibility in the eyes of voters.

The Centre has repeatedly stated that the responsibility to govern should fall on parties that increased their vote share in the elections and that its place is in the opposition after losing 8 of its 31 seats in the Parliament. The conservative centre-right party was the only party not to submit detailed answers to the coalition formation questions presented by Petteri Orpo, the chairperson of the National Coalition.

The party has set its course for the opposition apparently in an attempt to recoup some of its losses in rural regions by criticising what it hopes will be a right-wing government. The Finns Party has urged the Centre to re-consider, possibly over concerns that it could lose some of its new-found supporters in rural regions if it was part of the ruling coalition that does not include the Centre.

By refusing to join a ruling coalition, the Centre is “sabotaging” the formation of a government that would pursue policies that benefit rural areas, Halla-aho argued on Thursday.

Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Antti Kurvinen (Centre) said he is puzzled by the statements of Halla-aho.

“The Finns Party’s despair is tragicomic. What are they afraid of? For four years, we heard how the we’ve made completely wrong policies and that we shouldn’t have joined the government because we lost the elections [in 2019]. Now they’re suddenly begging us to join one,” he commented to YLE.

Kurvinen reminded that the Finns Party does not need the Centre to form a ruling majority, pointing to the 108-seat majority held by the National Coalition, Finns Party, Swedish People’s Party and Christian Democrats. The Finns Party and Swedish People’s Party, though, do not see eye to eye on a number of key issues, including immigration and climate action.

“Just get in there to take care of business. Why won’t they show that they can do things better than we? They’ve criticised our energy policy, agricultural and forestry policy, and economic policy. The Centre isn’t standing in their way, they can implement their own programme,” he said.

“I’ll let everyone consider for themselves why the Finns Party is afraid of a situation where the Centre is in the opposition and it’s in the government.”

Riikka Purra, the chairperson of the Finns Party, pleaded with the Centre to join a right-wing coalition earlier last week in an interview with Maaseudun Tulevaisuus, a thrice-weekly newspaper published in Helsinki.

Her plea was dismissed by her counterpart at the Centre, Annika Saarikko.

“My message to the Finns Party: don’t block the formation of a right-wing government. I urge you to join the government. It’s the right and obligation of election winners,” she wrote in a column for the newspaper.

CORRECTION: An unedited version of this story incorrectly described Maaseudun Tulevaisuus as a newspaper affiliated with the Centre Party. The newspaper is the mouthpiece of the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK).

Aleksi Teivainen – HT