The Finnish government led by the Social Democrats managed to negotiate their way through a maze of cheap attacks from their coalition partners the Center Party and from the opposition Conservatives and True Finns.
Nobody really expected the coalition to collapse but the main media companies (Alma and Sanoma, both controlled by the right) tried their best to sell extra subscriptions by writing colourful headlines about the squabbles as if the end of the EU is at hand!
Far from it… nobody here wants an election in the middle of a pandemic, with the True Finns high in the polls, and with the summer holidays only a few weeks away.
The papers even reported a story that our President intervened and told the various ministers to get their act together…
Of course he is a former Conservative Party PM and Finance Minister and knows how to attract attention to himself, even when nobody believed for a moment that there was a real threat to see the government fall.
People like to think that our President is some sort of independent “grand old man” of politics… That may have been true about former Finnish presidents from the years before the 1970s, but today’s presidential authority is but shadow of the power and authority once wielded by these men who were then at the centre of political and legal power. Now we have a parliamentary democracy with a stronger collection of ministers who have a majority in Parliament. It is nice to have a President, but it is a little bit of an interesting relic of past times when looking at the institution’s limited powers.
As reported here, the noise from the Center Party was about asserting themselves when faced with the worst ever polling numbers. Unfortunately they chose to demand a big financial aid package for peat and a reduction in government debt – two non-starters. Peat is a fossil fuel and that hardly sits well with Finnish Sustainability and Clean-Tech, and trying to cut debt in the middle of a pandemic is next to impossible – Finland does not have the lowest level of public debt but is well below the EU average.
The noise from the Conservatives was also unfortunate. They decided to criticise the EU Recovery Package by abstaining to vote in favour in our Parliamentary vote to accept it! The silly boys decided to accept it in the European Parliament as members of the EPP group, but not in our own Parliament. They seem to have got their “knickers in a tangle” as the English phrase goes… and that has sparked a real identity crisis for this very European party!
The True Finns kept up the pressure saying that we need peat, oil and dirty old cars, and we don’t need to pay any international aid, nor should we be giving away any money to other EU member states, etc… They were not that noisy just now because they really do not want to be anywhere else but in opposition. They know from past experience that being in government is hard work – it is so much nicer to sit in your leather seat in Parliament building thinking about the coming summer holidays…
Photo: Prime Minister’s Office