At this stage of the preparations for a new government, it is quite difficult to make a sound judgement in the new Prime Minister’ s actions and plans, and for us in Finland’s Politics we will begin to have a judgement when we will see the programme of the new government. For now, we can only note the following:
– this coalition is oriented on the right side, very conservative from issues and the 3 parties have a strong drive to support private entrepreneurship
– nobody knows what ideas of the True Finns will be in the programme (limit immigration? Leave the euro? No more help for Greece? Renegociate the presence of Finland in the EU?) and how long their leader will be able to keep the others MP under control.
– there has been an agreement between the 3 parties to cut 6 billions of public spending on the 6 years period.
– the Greens are not in the government in particular because they do not want to be in a coalition with a xenophobic and antieuropean parties (the True Finns), which is a quite general attitude in o, ther countries except Greece and Belgium.
– in order to avoid cuts in public spendings, Sipilä has tried to negtiate an agreement with the social partners to boost growth, apparently on the German model of the Hartz reforms implemented by Gerhard Schröder, but he has failed. Some said that the main problem was that the employers refused to limit the CEO’s remuneration, as proposed by Sipilä, but there are certainly other reasons
A international press relatively indifferent to the coalition
Except that, nothing seems yet clarified, but the most interesting is the reaction of the international press to this unusual coalition, because it may give indications of Finland’s international position and reputation in the future.
The general international news agencies have barely noted with some surprise the presence of the True Finns in the coalition. Reuters indicates that “The entry of the Finns into Sipila’s cabinet is a rare achievement among the new, often eurosceptic parties across Europe which have made big gains in elections but have been usually excluded from power by the established mainstream… Soini spooked financial markets in 2011 with his anti-bailout rhetoric, but has toned down his demands that Greece be kicked out of the euro zone“. Reuters note also that “during the government talks, the Centre Party said it wanted the EU to abandon further integration of economic policy and aim to dismantle Europe’s rescue fund in the long term. Analysts, however, say such positions are likely to change during detailed negotiations on the new government“. This article has been reproduced in the main newspapers in US and in the world
Russia today and other Russian newspapers, who have been commenting on the election that the anti-EU parties have won the lection, is not following this line with the coalition, probably because the main pro-NATO party, the National Coalition Party, has been chosen by Sipilä.
Some worries in Germany, France, Sweden and Greece
However, there has been more analysis and reactions in the press of other european partners.
In Germany, Der Spiegel is stressing the risk that the True Finns may push to leave the eurozone, in a article whose title is : “Triumph of Right-Wing Populists: How Dangerous Is Finland to the Euro?” beginning with the following: “Will the election of right-wing populists in Finland derail the euro rescue package? A Helsinki veto would indeed be expensive for the rest of the euro zone, particularly for Germany. Experts are also warning that other European countries may follow suit if Finland decides to pull out of the euro bailout.”
In France, Le Monde indicates that it will be difficult to lead a country in the international arena with The True Finns who want to leave the eurozone and limit the powers of the EU, and the National Coalition Party who is totally pro-EU. Le Monde notes also that the True Finns are very reluctant about the budget cuts, when the National Coalition Party would want more. Le Monde stresses the attitude of the main Finnish parties who accept in the government the True Finns, a party known to have xenophobic elements.
In Sweden, Svenska Dagbladet report on the new coalition by focusing on the presence of the True Finns in the government. Stressing that neither Swedish nor Danish parties have accepted to include their populist parties in the government. It reminds that the other leader of the True Finns, Jussi Halla-Aho, has been condemned for racist speech in Finland, and that other representatives of the True Fiins have a xenophobic position. Dagens Nyheter was more neutral when announcing the coalitionn, but after that editorials, blogs and readers’ reactions were quite critical of Sipilä’s move.
The Greek newspaper Ekathimerini was mainly repoting on Timo Soini’ declaration that it would make sense for Greece to leave the euro zone. But noted that “In the preliminary talks, all the three parties said they would not rule out a possible third bailout for Greece from the EU rescue fund within its current capacity and capital structure“.
In Italy and Spain, there has not been either strong reactions to the announcement of the coalition.
Euronews has made a specific report on the True Finns, whose presentation was: ‘‘Nationalist, anti-immigration and strongly euro-sceptic. The True Finn party made an historic breakthrough in Finland’s recent elections. What are the reasons for this small populist party’s success, in a country which is relatively prosperous and traditionally pro-European? ” Since then, there has been no specific reaction to the coalition on Euronews.
Waiting to see what the government will do and how Timo Soini will behave
This rapid and limited survey of some media of the international press shows that there are some reactions to the presence of the True Finns in the future government, but nothing similar to what happened when Jorg Haider was elected in Austria. It is true that Timo Soini is not the Prime Minister or the President, and also that he is not Haider. In all cases, the other EU countries are going to judge Timo Soini as a minister of Foreign Affairs or Minister of Finance with curiosity and some scepticism, with the fear that he willl hamper the functioning of the EU, as promised in his party’s programme.