Petteri Orpo, the chairperson of the National Coalition, briefed the media on his bilateral talks with representatives of the Social Democrats, Swedish People’s Party, Green League and Movement Now in the Parliament House on Monday, 24 April 2023. Orpo admitted that the differences between the National Coalition and Social Democrats, one of only two possible main coalition partners, remain “quite big”. (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)

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THE NATIONAL COALITION is seeking to form a coalition government with the Finns Party, views Sanna Marin, the chairperson of the Social Democrats.

Marin on Monday said the National Coalition’s preference became evident during the election campaign and has only become more pronounced after the parliamentary elections held in Finland on 2 April.

“It’s been evident for quite a while that the National Coalition is looking to collaborate particularly with the Finns Party,” she commented after sitting down with Petteri Orpo, the chairperson of the National Coalition.

Orpo, who is in charge of the coalition formation process as the chairperson of the largest group in the Finnish Parliament, yesterday continued his bilateral discussions with other parties with a view to determine which parties to invite to negotiations on the next government programme.

“Differences with the Social Democrats are pretty big,” he conceded, pointing to divergent views on economic policy, “level of crisis awareness” and measures to balance public finances.

While Marin indicated that she is not holding her breath over an invitation to the coalition formation negotiations given the lack of movement toward the Social Democrats, Orpo encouraged other parties to show initiative.

“If you’re eager to join the government, nothing is stopping you from being active,” he said. “I’m sure a bit of mutual movement is what’s expected in these discussions.”

In addition to the formal bilateral discussions, the National Coalition has held informal discussions with other parties. Helsingin Sanomat on Monday wrote that its sources tell that such discussions have been particularly frequent with the Finns Party.

Orpo on Monday also had discussions with representatives of the Green League, Movement Now and Swedish People’s Party.

Anna-Maja Henriksson, the chairperson of the Swedish People’s Party, stated after the meeting that the party is ready to take part in the coalition formation negotiations if invited by the National Coalition. The negotiations, she added, will hardly be straightforward.

“We haven’t expressed any wishes about the government composition,” she told reporters in the Parliament House.

Maria Ohisalo, the chairperson of the Green League, told reporters that her party is prepared to participate in the negotiations despite its view that the primary responsibility for forming a government falls on parties that performed well in the recent elections.

“The ball is now in the court of Orpo,” she said. “We’ll see what the government negotiator decides.”

Harry Harkimo, the chairperson of Movement Now, similarly stated that the one-person group is prepared to govern but added that it is “not at all realistic” to expect an invitation from the National Coalition.

“I doubt that we can fit the puzzle given that we only have one representative,” he said.

Orpo will have similar bilateral talks today with the Centre, Christian Democrats and Finns Party. He has outlined that he intends to decide which parties to invite to negotiations about the government programme by the end of the month and form the government in June.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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