The famous SOTE reform, a major reform of health and social care launched by Finland’s coalition government has been rejected as unconstitutional by the relevant parliamentary committee. The reform will now have to be changed substantially before it can proceed, further delaying a controversial transformation that has long been in the works. “The government’s proposed model of freedom of choice does not guarantee universal equality in health and social care well enough,” said the chair of parliament’s constitutional law committee.
The reason why it creates a problem with the government’s coalition is that this reform was pushed by Kokoomus, the conservative National Coalition Party, always in favor of privatization of public services. In exchange, Prime Minister’s Sipilä’s obtained a government’s agreement to create provincial governments in order to manage the health system and provide health services to the citizens. But if there is no SOTE reform in the short-term, there will be no provincial government, and M. Sipilä’s party, Keskusta (the Centre Party), who is present outside the big towns mainly and would have got easily the control of a majority of the provincial governments and nice managers’ positions, would not be able to benefit from the reform.
Apparently, the leader of Kokoomus, M. Orpo, and M. Sipilä are ready to go fast and are accepting to change rapidly the project in order to put it in conformity with the Constitution, thus accepting a larger share for the public service, something that they considered impossible some days ago. They would get the SOTE reform and some additional privatization and competition for the Kokoomus, and the Provincial Governments for Keskusta.
It is also possible that Kokoomus, who is today dominating in the polls, will end the government’s coalition in Autumn, which would mean new elections, and win the Prime Minister’s position, which would allow to have a more adequate reform from their point of view. There seems to be some indication of hidden negotiations with some parties in the opposition in order to see if another majority would be possible, which would kill Keskusta’s expensive dreams of creating 18 kingdoms for their own use.