The National Coalition Chairman Petteri Orpo celebrates with supporters at the party's parliament election party at the Ostrobotnia club in Helsinki, Finland on Sunday, 2nd April, 2023. National Coalition is set to be the winner of the elections. LEHTIKUVA

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Finland's political landscape has undergone a notable shift following the National Coalition Party’s (NCP) victory in the parliamentary elections held in April. NCP leader Petteri Orpo announced the formation of a majority government with the eurosceptic, anti-immigration Finns Party, along with two smaller parties - the Swedish People's Party and the Christian Democrats. This coalition signals a significant rightward tilt in Finnish politics, displacing the left-wing Social Democrats, led by outgoing Prime Minister Sanna Marin.

A Complex Negotiation Process

The formation of this new government did not come easily. The coalition parties underwent 11 weeks of intense negotiations to reconcile their differences and agree on a common government program. Over a hundred experts were also heared on various topics. Among the issues that posed significant challenges during the negotiations were immigration, climate policy, and public finances.

The Finns Party, known for its hardline stance against immigration, was especially at odds with the Swedish People’s Party, which considers immigration crucial for tackling Finland's aging population. After almost three months of talks, a compromise was finally reached, clearing the way for the formation of the coalition government.

Policy Priorities and Implications

The government led by Petteri Orpo, who is known for his fiscal conservatism, is expected to implement a range of policies that reflect the right-leaning tendencies of the coalition partners. Key areas where changes are expected include fiscal policy, immigration, and environmental commitments.

Orpo’s government is anticipated to focus on curbing the fiscal deficit through measures such as cutting unemployment and welfare benefits. These austerity measures are expected to be a significant deviation from the policies pursued by the previous government.

In terms of immigration policy, the coalition is expected to tighten controls. The Finns Party, which has a prominent role in the coalition, has been known for its anti-immigration stance. Given that the party emerged as the second-largest in parliament, its influence on the government's immigration policies will likely be substantial.

The coalition government is also expected to loosen environmental commitments. This is noteworthy, given the global urgency surrounding climate change and environmental sustainability. However, the exact extent to which these commitments will be relaxed remains unclear, as the policy details have not been released yet.

Electoral Dynamics

The National Coalition Party emerged as the largest party in the April elections, winning 48 seats. The Finns Party secured 46 seats, and the Social Democrats, led by then-Prime Minister Sanna Marin, secured 43 seats loosing the elctions. To achieve a majority in the 200-seat parliament, Orpo included the Swedish People's Party, which holds nine seats, and the Christian Democrats, who hold five seats. This brings the total number of seats supporting the new government to 108.

The formation of a new right-wing coalition government in Finland represents a significant political shift. With Petteri Orpo at the helm, the government is expected to adopt more conservative policies, especially in fiscal matters, immigration, and the environment. As the government begins to implement its agenda, the Finnish populace and international community will closely watch the impact of these policy changes on the nation’s economy, society, and international relations.

HT

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