Anna-Maja Henriksson, the chairperson of the Swedish People’s Party, was photographed at Suomi-Areena in Pori on 29 June 2023. Henriksson on Thursday said the party’s leadership has not yet to see an improvement in the situation of the ruling coalition. (Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva)

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THE LEADERSHIP of the Swedish People’s Party convened yesterday to discuss the problems faced by the ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Petteri Orpo (NCP).

“The party leadership concurs with the position adopted last week by the parliamentary group and notes that the situation has not changed. Discussions will continue between the four chairpersons of the ruling parties,” Minister of Education Anna-Maja Henriksson (SFP) stated in a terse press release.

The meeting was organised to provide the party leadership information about the government in order to make sure it does not have to rely exclusively on media reporting. The purpose was not to make any decisions on whether or not to leave the ruling coalition that remains divided over the racist statements made by Minister of Finance Riikka Purra (PS).

The Swedish People’s Parliamentary Group expressed its serious concern with the government’s ability to function last week, following the re-surfacing of a blog post from 2019 in which Purra described women wearing burkas as “black sacks”.

Purra, the group argued, also seemed to walk back the apology she issued for a series of earlier comments on Twitter.

“Minister […] Purra’s update on Twitter on Thursday evening raises questions about her recent apology,” reads a press release issued by the group on Thursday, 14 July.

The concerns were articulated last week also by Minister for European Affairs and Ownership Steering Anders Adlercreutz (SFP): “The way in which she communicated her apology eroded our confidence in the apology being genuine. Or that she genuinely recognised the effects of her statements on society,” he wrote in his blog.

Adlercreutz pointed to Purra arguing that opponents have “already taken aim, as expected, at the direct, unpolished speech, immigration criticism and necessary measures” employed by the Finns Party.

“As surely as people continue and will continue to point to mistakes by the Finns Party, the Finns Party will continue on the path for which we have a clear mandate. If that bothers other parties too much, it isn’t our problem,” tweeted Purra.

Members of the Swedish People’s Party stated to YLE earlier this week that the situation remains challenging, expressing their hope that the government take swifter action to tackle its problems.

“I think we’re very close to there being no other choice than to leave the government,” Hanna Lönnfors, the chairperson of the Swedish People’s Party in Uusimaa, commented to the public broadcasting company on Monday.

Risto Artjoki, the state secretary to Orpo, told Helsingin Sanomat on Monday that the government will set up a task force to draft a statement on its measures to promote equality. The task force will begin its work after the summer holiday in early August, with a view to presenting the statement once the parliament commences its autumn term.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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