Petteri Orpo, the chairperson of the National Coalition, arrived for a press conference in the House of the Estates in Helsinki on Thursday, 4 May 2023. Orpo told that no politically difficult questions have yet to emerge in the ongoing coalition formation negotiations between the National Coalition, Finns Party, Swedish People’s Party and Christian Democrats. (Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva)


DISCUSSIONS between the National Coalition, Finns Party, Swedish People’s Party and Christian Democrats about the next government programme have got off to a somewhat timid start at the House of the Estates in Helsinki, according to Helsingin Sanomat.

Petteri Orpo, the chairperson of the National Coalition, is in charge of the negotiations as the leader of the largest party in the Finnish Parliament.

Helsingin Sanomat on Thursday reported, citing sources participating in the discussions, that the four parties are trying to figure out each other’s negotiating strategy. “What the National Coalition has in its back pocket is still unknown,” one participant described to the newspaper.

Altogether a few hundred people are involved in the discussions. They are distributed across eight main negotiation groups that, in turn, have been split into several sub-groups to discuss issues ranging from taxation and social security to climate, labour laws and EU policy.

Issues that cannot be resolved in the groups will be handed over to a group made up of the party chairpersons.

“The chairpersons’ group will look at the picture in the afternoon to determine if there are any bones of contention, but at this moment I’m not aware of a single one,” Orpo commented to reporters yesterday morning.

The four parties share in principle an understanding of the weak state of the public economy, with each of the parties pretty much equally prepared to implement fiscal adjustments worth six billion euros. How genuine the readiness is, though, will not be revealed until the parties begin discussing the details of the adjustment measures, reminded Helsingin Sanomat.

Sources from the three aspiring coalition partners told the newspaper that at least some participants are concerned that the economy and budget framework will receive too much attention in the discussions led by the National Coalition. Balancing the public economy, after all, is important especially for supporters of the National Coalition.

One indication of such concerns was provided yesterday by Riikka Purra, the chairperson of the Finns Party.

“We’re looking for answers also to other Finnish problems than the imbalance of public economy in the coalition formation negotiations at the House of the Estates,” she wrote on Twitter. “This should be kept in mind. Or understood.”

The three other parties will look to make sure the government programme also contains reforms that are important to them and pleasant enough for the public to compensate for the difficult adjustments.

The negotiation group on economic issues will at some point of the process provide the other negotiation groups budgetary frameworks that will likely necessitate compromises on all issues. Orpo on Thursday reminded that the more the parties can agree on reforms that create jobs and growth, the greater the savings will be from social and unemployment security.

The objective is to agree on measures that grow the ranks of the employed by 100,000.

One of the early points of conflict may be the operations of YLE. Orpo assured yesterday that the government will not interfere in the content production of the public broadcasting company, drawing criticism from Sebastian Tynkkynen (PS), the head of the negotiation group on communication and digitalisation.

“Orpo made a big mistake by deciding with his own mandate that we won’t interfere in the content production of YLE,” Tynkkynen wrote on Facebook.

“This may be the stance of the National Coalition, but no one gets to dictate anything in the coalition formation negotiations, especially publicly. You rather negotiate and make concessions to the parties that you want to form a government with.”

Aleksi Teivainen – HT