Finland is a country located in the region of Northern Europe. In March 2019, the bourgeois tripartite government, led by the Center, resigned after the election four years earlier. The reason was that it had failed to get through a prioritized health care reform. In the election the following month, the Social Democrats won by a small margin. The party formed a government together with the Greens, the Swedish People’s Party, the Left Union and the Center.
Center leader Juha Sipilä’s bourgeois government, which, in addition to the Center, also included the Samlingpartiet and the True Finns, was faced with major challenges following his entry in spring 2015. As a consequence of the country’s economy shrinking three years in a row, the government made a number of restrictions on working conditions for employees. Government employees had the number of vacation days reduced from 38 to 30. The overtime allowance was halved and the compensation for working on Sundays was reduced from 100 percent to 75. A waiting day for illness. The government’s goal was to reduce the state’s labor costs by 5 percent.
- Countryaah: Country facts and history of Finland, including state flag, location map, demographics, GDP data, currency code, and business statistics.
The government parties also wanted to reform the health care system to reduce spending. The country’s aging population had caused health care costs to skyrocket.
But it was not only the economy that employed the government but also the increased flow of refugees to the country needed to be dealt with. Finland, which has traditionally had a restrictive immigration policy, received ten times more asylum seekers in 2015 (32,500 people) than the year before (3,200 asylum seekers). To lower the rate of the refugee flow, the government introduced stricter border controls on Sweden in the north, while authorities announced that around 70 percent of asylum seekers would probably not be allowed to stay. As a result, more than half of the refugees had returned home in early 2016.
Another consequence of the refugee stream was that some kind of citizen guard – sometimes with neo-Nazi connections – began patrolling the streets in smaller towns where asylum dwellings were established. The groups called themselves “Odens soldiers” and said they had taken on the task of “protecting the locals from Muslim invaders”. The police criticized the National Guard and pointed out that it was the police’s job to protect the population. No clashes between Oden’s soldiers and asylum seekers had been reported in early summer 2016.
An opinion poll, made by the broadcaster YLE in May, showed that Interior Minister Petteri Orpo of the Collective Party was the government’s most popular minister. The reason was believed to be that he was considered to have handled the refugee situation well. At the Congress Party Congress a month later, Finance Minister Alexander Stubb lost the vote on the party leader’s post against Interior Minister Orpo. As a result of the change of party leader, Stubb also resigned from the post of finance minister. New finance minister became Orpo, and Paula Risikko was appointed new Minister of the Interior.
Government crisis is averted
In June 2017, the True Finns elected Jussi Halla-aho as new party leader after Timo Soini, who held the post for 20 years. Halla-aho was fined in 2012 by the Supreme Court for comparing Islam with pedophilia. His aim is to make the True Finns hostile to immigration and more EU-skeptical than today.
The election of Halla-aho led Prime Minister Sipilä to announce that the Center and the Collective Party could no longer continue government cooperation with the True Finns. Instead, they would try to find new coalition partners. But when 20 of the 37 Finns’ 37 parliamentarians broke out of the parent party in protest of the party leader’s election, the Center and the Collective Party could reign together with the defectors, who called themselves the New Alternative. In the breakaway faction were all of the true Finns’ government members, including Foreign Minister Timo Soini, who remained in his post. In June 2017, a new alternative decided to call itself the Blue Future. The plan was to form a separate party under the same name.
In the January 2018 presidential election, Niinistiö was re-elected with 63 percent of the vote in the first round. It was the first time since the system of two electoral votes in the presidential election was introduced in 1994 that a second round was not needed. Pekka Haavisto from the Green Party received the second most votes with 12 percent. The incumbent president’s popularity among the Finns is partly due to his being considered to have done a good job during his six-year term, and partly to his good relations with Russia and its President Vladimir Putin. Niinistiö is politically independent but has previously belonged to the Collective Party.
Parliamentary elections 2019
On March 8, 2019, about five weeks before the planned parliamentary election, the government resigned. It was then clear that the government would not get through one of its main prestige projects, the planned healthcare reform. Prime Minister Juha Sipilä had already made it clear that he would resign if the reform could not be implemented. President Sauli Niinistö approved Juha Sipilä’s resignation request, but asked that he continue to lead an expedition government until the election.
In the April 13 election, the Social Democrats became the largest party. But it only got one more mandate than the true Finns, who in turn only had one more mandate than the Collective Party.
Almost two months after the parliamentary election, the party leader of the Social Democrats, Antti Rinne, formed a new government together with four more parties. One of them was the Center – despite the fact that the Social Democrats have been strongly critical of the previous government’s cuts and savings policy. The other cooperating parties were the Greens, the Swedish People’s Party (SFP) and the Left Federation. The true Finns were kept out of the coalition, which was supported by a majority of the members of parliament – 117 out of 200. It was the first time in a decade and a half that the Social Democrats would lead a government.
The government planned major investments in infrastructure, education and health care. It also wanted to strengthen employment in the country, so that 75 percent of the workforce would have a job. In addition, the government wanted to raise pensions and child allowances and increase the number of police officers. The investments would be financed, among other things, with increased taxes on alcohol, tobacco, soft drinks, gasoline and diesel. The government also wanted Swedish to be included again as a compulsory part of the student’s degree in Finnish.
But already, after a few months, in early December 2019, Antti Rinne announced that he would resign following a political crisis that began with a strike at the state-owned Finnish post office. The Center Party had then declared that it no longer had any confidence in Rinne after his handling of the post office crisis. For two weeks in November, several thousands of employees at the post went on strike in protest of 700 package sorters being transferred to a subsidiary with another collective agreement that meant lower wages for some of them. The conflict led to sympathy strikes from, among others, employees of Finnair airline and public transport in Helsinki. An agreement was finally reached where the planned change was withdrawn. But the conflict had political consequences and at the end of the month, Social Democratic Minister Sirpa Paatero resigned, defending the Post Office’s actions against its employees. Prime Minister Rinne, in turn, denied before the Riksdag that the government had agreed with the plans. The Post Office’s head then accused him of having gone wrong. After this, the Center withdrew its support for Rinne. But President Niinistö asked him to continue to lead the government as an expedition minister until a new prime minister was appointed. In early December, the Social Democrats elected 34-year-old Minister of Transport and Communications Sanna Marin as the party’s prime ministerial candidate and shortly thereafter she was named new prime minister by the president. Prime Minister Rinne, in turn, denied before the Riksdag that the government had agreed with the plans. The Post Office’s head then accused him of having gone wrong. After this, the Center withdrew its support for Rinne. But President Niinistö asked him to continue to lead the government as an expedition minister until a new prime minister was appointed. In early December, the Social Democrats elected 34-year-old Minister of Transport and Communications Sanna Marin as the party’s prime ministerial candidate and shortly thereafter she was named new prime minister by the president. Prime Minister Rinne, in turn, denied before the Riksdag that the government had agreed with the plans. The Post Office’s head then accused him of having gone wrong. After this, the Center withdrew its support for Rinne. But President Niinistö asked him to continue to lead the government as an expedition minister until a new prime minister was appointed. In early December, the Social Democrats elected 34-year-old Minister of Transport and Communications Sanna Marin as the party’s prime ministerial candidate and shortly thereafter she was named new prime minister by the president.
Read more about the events in the Calendar.
FACTS – POLITICS
Republic of Finland / Suomen Tasavalta
republic, unitary state
Head of State
President Sauli Niinistö (2012–)
Head of government
Prime Minister Sanna Marin (2019–)
Most important parties with mandates in the last election
Social Democrats 40, True Finns 39, Collection Party 38, Center 31, The Green 20, Left Association 16, Swedish People’s Party 9, Christian Democrats 5 (2019)
Main parties with mandates in the second most recent elections
Center 49, True Finns 38, Collecting Party 37, Social Democrats 34, Green 15, Left Union 12, Swedish People’s Party 9, Christian Democrats 5 (2015)
72% in the 2019 general election, 66.7% in the 2018 presidential election
parliamentary elections 2023, presidential elections 2024