PETTERI ORPO, the chairperson of the National Coalition, on Tuesday wrapped up the preliminary phase of the coalition formation process after completing bilateral discussions with representatives of the Centre, Christian Democrats and Finns Party.
“The goal is that a decision on the coalition that’ll start building the government is made this week,” he stated to reporters in the Parliament House.
Orpo outlined that the next government has to pursue sustainable growth, safeguard welfare services, maintain national security and take care of education and the climate. The National Coalition, he reiterated, is not willing to compromise on its objective of adjusting public finances by six billion euros over the next four years, even though other parties do not necessarily fully share its understanding of the situation or the measures it necessitates.
Immigration is another issue that the next government must be able to solve, according to him.
“Our immigration policy must be controlled. It means that we’ll need to examine our asylum policy, but we do have to get more skilled workers to this country,” he said, admitting that the question continues to cause friction between the National Coalition and Finns Party.
Riikka Purra, the chairperson of the Finns Party, said the populist right-wing party will insist on tightening both humanitarian and employment-based immigration, pointing especially to immigrants taking up low-paid jobs and family reunifications.
Although the Finns Party has set certain conditions on its participation in the ruling coalition, she added, the party wants to govern and is prepared to make compromises.
“We’ve also reached out [to the National Coalition],” she said, adding that no agreements have been made in the preliminary discussions. “You don’t have to be a fakir to notice that [differences persist between the Finns Party and National Coalition]. But if the Finns Party and National Coalition stand side by side in the government, compromises have to be made.”
“We’ll join the government if it allows us to advance our goals. We’re also ready for compromises. The negotiations are expected to be difficult.”
Sari Essayah, the chairperson of the Christian Democrats, told reporters that the elections showed that there are parties that are prepared to reform the economy in order to save welfare services and parties that simply hope that “economic growth would take care of everything”.
“We’’ll wait and see what comes out of this,” she said.
Annika Saarikko, the chairperson of the Centre, repeated what she has said several times since the elections: the Centre belongs in the opposition.
She also reiterated her support for a right-wing coalition based on co-operation between the National Coalition and Finns Party, describing it as a “natural choice” that aligns with the election results.
“That’s the outcome Finns primarily want judging by the election results,” she said. “[The Finns Party] mustn’t be afraid of responsibility.”
Aleksi Teivainen – HT