Chairpersons Petteri Orpo of the National Coalition and Riikka Purra of the Finns Party commented on the coalition formation talks at the House of the Estates in Helsinki on Tuesday, 9 May 2023. Orpo said the negotiation group on economic affairs has found an agreement on the economic framework of the next government programme. (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)


THE STATE of the Finnish economy was the dominant theme of the coalition formation negotiations yesterday, judging by statements made by the heads of the four parties participating in the negotiations, reports Helsingin Sanomat.

At a joint press conference at the House of the Estates in Helsinki, not a word was uttered about the disagreements on immigration, development co-operation or the public wrangle over the funding of YLE.

“The situation is even worse than I thought,” Petteri Orpo, the chairperson of the National Coalition, remarked as he showed members of the media a chart depicting the projected increase in public debt in the coming years. “That’s why it’s even more necessary to do as recommended by the Ministry of Finance.”

The ministry has estimated that six billion euros in fiscal adjustments are required in 2023–2027 and another three billion euros in 2027–2031.

Orpo also pointed out that the gross domestic product is expected to contract this year.

“The deficit across the public economy will worsen,” he stated, reminding that the growing debt burden and rising interest rates are set to raise debt servicing costs to over five billion euros by the end of the electoral term.

The National Coalition believes fiscal adjustments worth nine billion euros in the two next electoral terms would not only reverse the debt trend, but also tackle the sustainability deficit that is threatening Finland.

Economic issued dominated the press conference because the four parties had found an understanding on the economic framework for the next government. The framework will set boundaries for the negotiations on other themes of the government programme, which remain in their early stages with the negotiators hearing experts from various sectors of society.

Orpo on Tuesday said he is pleased with the work of the negotiation group that devised the economic framework, adding that a consensus on the framework was found relatively easily between the parties.

“It’s hard work when you don’t have anything to share and you’re mostly taking something away,” he acknowledged.

Riikka Purra, the chairperson of the Finns Party, underscored yesterday that the group tasked with economic issues has yet to reach a consensus on all details. Anna-Maja Henriksson of the Swedish People’s Party sent the same message but also confirmed that there is consensus on the scope and broader guidelines.

Orpo stated that the next government must carry out reforms in order to preserve the Finnish welfare state.

“Our four parties don’t have any other goal besides finding a way to make Finland strong and robust, a country that can preserve well-being,” he summed up to reporters.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT