Talks begin in Finland to form center-left government

Published May 8, 2019, 11:52 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Agence France-Presse

The leader of Finland’s Social Democrats, Antti Rinne, on Wednesday, began talks with four other left and center parties aimed at forming a coalition government after April elections.

The nationalist Finns Party, which came second in the election with just one seat fewer than the Social Democrats, denounced the plans, saying they denied the will of the voters.

Former trade union boss Rinne said that after preliminary discussions he had decided to try to form an alliance between the Centre Party of the outgoing prime minister Juha Sipila, as well as the smaller Greens, Left Alliance, and Swedish People’s Party.

If they manage to reach an agreement and form a government, the grouping would hold a majority of 117 seats out of a parliament of 200.

“Now we just have to make sure that the groups negotiate and come up with solutions,” Rinne told reporters outside parliament.

The Finns Party, which surged into second place in the election on an anti-immigration campaign, accused Rinne of “forming a leftist-green government against the will of voters”.

The parties will now begin talks to draw up a programme of policies for the next government term, which Rinne has said he hopes to have in place by the end of May.

But his potential coalition partners have warned that the talks could be far from straightforward.

One of the key stumbling blocks is expected to be the question of how to shore up Finland’s still-fragile economy against a predicted forthcoming downturn.

The Social Democrats have strongly opposed the public spending cuts introduced by the Centre Party-led coalition during the past four years, as well as attempts to introduce more flexibility into Finland’s labor laws.