This was the week that saw two events that created a media storm but not much else:
- The surprising resignation of the Minister of Finance, and
- The government announced a rejection of the EU’s budget proposal.
The resignation of the Minister of Finance – The decision by the minister to resign was a big surprise for Finnish politicians and voters. The minister had attended a media training program that was far too expensive (c. €50 000), and that also did not follow the government’s own procurement policy. The fact that she took ultimate political responsibility for this was comforting in this Trumpian/Johnson world of irresponsible leadership. However, that is not the end of the story. She also happens to be the leader of the Centre Party, and one can imagine that there must be many within the party who were very concerned about their polling results. They have been nothing more than a disaster in recent months. Her inability to be perceived as a successful leader was also reason enough for a quick removal from such a key position. The party must find a stronger MoF candidate if it wants to survive the next election. The True Finns and the Conservatives are fighting hard at throwing mud from the opposition benches!
The right-wing press are saying that the present Finnish government may collapse without the support of the Centre Party, the party of the departing minister. There were immediately claims that she was responsible for upsetting the Social Democrats who hold a grudge against her because she was instrumental in sacking the previous prime minister who was from the Social Democrats. Even though there is the often quoted saying “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”, it is impossible to believe that the present Finnish government is anywhere near collapsing because of this matter. Our Prime Minister is a cool and collected politician who is running a well-managed government that is both careful and articulate. The minister’s resignation is simply an honest politician’s reaction to public outrage over the cost of the training and because of the Centre Party’s poor polling results – nothing more.
All of the parties in the present coalition know full well that they must cooperate together and continue in government because the Conservative Party and the True Finns are respectively second and third in the polls. Early elections would be suicide for all the parties in the present government.
The EU Coronavirus Budget – For the last two years Finland has hesitated to support the Hansa Group that is opposed to any policies that could lead to a federal Europe and the sharing of financial risks within the EuroZone. Holland, Austria, Denmark and Sweden have all opposed the recent EU coronavirus budget proposal, and now Finland has joined their ranks. The Finnish government announced this last week that they oppose both the amount and the split between loans and grants. Grants must be reduced in relative size. They also stated that they expect any new proposal to come with tight conditions relating to the maturity of the loans, they must be shorter than 30 years, and beneficiary countries must adhere to strict budget deficit policies.
Nothing radical here but a clear and consistent policy that forces France, Spain and Italy to take better care of their finances. It is also a rebuke aimed at Germany, a country that sees itself with France as setting policies in stone before discussing and agreeing with other member countries.
Photo: Former Minister of Finance Katri Kulmuni by photogrpher Laura Kotila/valtioneuvoston kanslia