Finland’s Prime Minister Dives into Mud!

The newly appointed PM here in Helsinki, Mr. Orpo, could not be more different from his predecessor, Sana Marin.

She was always clear and thorough in her opinions and actions. She managed Covid well and was masterful, together with our President, in handling the NATO matter after the war criminal next door invaded Ukraine.

This Prime Minister wanted a right-wing government because he wanted a right-wing government. He claimed the moral high ground by claiming that his party can reduce public debt by “austerity” and “improvements in productivity”.

His definition of austerity basically means cuts in unemployment insurance benefits, housing subsidies and healthcare and care of the elderly resources. There are no cuts in grants for private companies for innovation which large companies receive (the ones that burn cash to fund share buy-backs) while tax reductions are being proposed to encourage people to work, a policy reason that is not supported by any empirical studies.

Improving productivity means smaller government by outsourcing to the private sector. You must believe in fairies fort natural monopolies to be more productive when shoved from the public sector to the private sector in small markets like Finland. We have see our energy transmission and healthcare companies privatized and seen cost zoom faster than a rocket of to the moon.

Like Sanna Marin, our new PM likes to pose in front of photographers in the same vain manner, smiling as if he is the most popular person popstar after Freddie Mercury. Unfortunately, that is where the similarity stops. He cunningly planned to form a coalition government at any price by jumping in bed with the True Finns, a xenophobic party with links to the extreme right. He was warned by many of the foolishness of this decision, for which he is already paying a high price.

He and his party leadership agreed to the appointment of a True Finn member of Parliament who has links to the extreme right as the new minister for economics and labour. His appointment was almost defeated in parliament when a few members of his coalition government decided to vote against the proposal to appoint the man. It was then revealed in the media that the gentleman had lied about his education and work history. He subsequently decided to resign, (or was he pushed out?) just 11 days after being appointed. Nothing like this has been seen before in Finland’s 100-year history, but what else could we expect to see from this party that is always gaming the system for its own benefit. Now the game will become tougher since The True Finns believe in that “An eye for an eye thing”. Expect storm clouds coming over the horizon sometime soon…

Very few political analysts here expect this government to last past Christmas. It appears that the prime minister was foolish to enter a pact with the True Finns. It took three long months for him to negotiate an agreed detailed action plan with the other three parties. Barely a week later he is facing his first major crisis. It’s not only political analysts, who are doubtful about the viability of this coalition, so are a great majority of voters.

The prime minister’s manifesto before the election promised austerity because they claim that the increase in public borrowing is destroying the very fabric of Finland’s economy and our welfare system. Unfortunately, most voters have forgotten that the same right-wing parties were in charge for two decades before Sana Marin’s stint as prime minister. During their reign, between 2003 and 2019, public debt almost doubled from the start of the 2007 financial crisis! They can hardly be described as reliable keepers of the public purse.

Just take a quick look at the figures published by the European Central Bank’s office here in Helsinki:

Few now realize that Sana Marin was faced with two crises during her time as Prime Minister – Covid and Putin. The increase in debt was far below what happened elsewhere in the west! Here are the official figures from Eurostat.

What we can say is that Mr. Orpo, our newly appointed prime minister, has created a false picture about the former government while conveniently ignoring his own party’s poor record of controlling public debt.

Unfortunately, your correspondent has to listen to far too many people who keep on repeating the mantra that only a right-wing government can contain the public debt. The above figures speak for themselves…

Photo: Lauri Heikkinen / valtioneuvoston kanslia

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