Petteri Orpo, the chairperson of the National Coalition, briefed reporters on the coalition formation talks at the House of the Estates in Helsinki on Friday, 19 May 2023. Orpo reiterated his confidence that the four parties involved in the talks can find common ground also on more challenging questions, pointing out that the differences of view have not come as a surprise. (Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva)


THE COALITION FORMATION TALKS in Finland will proceed to what are expected to be the more difficult questions this week, reports Helsingin Sanomat.

Petteri Orpo, the chairperson of the National Coalition, on Friday said the negotiation groups assigned to tackle contentious questions such as climate, immigration and social and health care will ramp up their efforts to find positions that are acceptable to each of the four parties involved in the talks: the National Coalition, Finns Party, Swedish People’s Party and Christian Democrats.

“We have to move forward also with the difficult questions, and I believe that we will,” he was quoted saying by the newspaper.

Orpo on Friday stated that the talks have reached their midway point in terms of the overall workload. Riikka Purra, the chairperson of the Finns Party, principally agreed with the assessment but reminded that the questions yet to be resolved are “clearly” more challenging.

“And it probably isn’t surprising that you first reach an agreement on the easier questions. Immigration, for example, it’s still firmly a work in progress,” analysed Purra.

She reiterated that the populist right-wing party will not join a ruling coalition that does not implement clear changes to immigration policy. Orpo, meanwhile, reminded that the differences of views on topics such as climate and immigration have not come as a surprise and appeared to open the door to some concessions on, for example, immigration.

“The election results must be reflected somewhere. They determine the starting point for the negotiations,” he said.

Unresolved issues remain also in the domain of social and health care policy.

Purra on Friday revealed that the economic framework thrashed out by the parties has been received differently by the various negotiation groups, with most of the needs related to social and health care. She estimated that the key will be to reduce the number of statutory responsibilities but said she is confident the negotiations can be pushed over the finish line.

Orpo reiterated last week that the ruling coalition will not walk back the carbon-neutrality target set for 2035. The Swedish People’s Party has declared that it will only join the ruling coalition if the coalition not only reaffirms its commitment to the target but also takes concrete steps toward the target.

Purra, by contrast, described the 2035 target as an “extremely silly” bit of climate policy but did not demand that it be amended or scrapped.

“If we decide to hold on to this [target] due to political prestige while the world around us is moving in the opposite direction, naturally there isn’t anything we can do about it,” she commented to reporters.

Orpo indicated that Purra is entitled to her view.

“We share an understanding that we have to find [climate] measures that don’t increase the daily costs of people or undermine the competitiveness of Finland. The parties have their own starting points, and the task forces are looking for answers to these questions,” said Orpo.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT