Finns Set to Topple Government as Economic Pain Spurs Voters

Bloomberg, By Kati Pohjanpalo, April 17

Finns look set to vote out a government marred by political infighting and elect a party led by a self-made millionaire promising a business-driven recovery.

After three years of economic decline, Finland’s next government will need to fix chronic budget deficits, a debt load that’s set to breach European Union limits, rising unemployment and economic growth that’s about half the average of the euro zone.

Juha Sipila, who leads the opposition Center Party, has promised business-friendly policies he says will create 200,000 private-sector jobs. His party is polling about 6 percentage points ahead of the next-biggest groups, according to newspaper Helsingin Sanomat. If he wins Sunday’s vote, Sipila will probably try to form a majority coalition that’s likely to include the euro-skeptic The Finns party.

“Putting together a new, workable government that can turn around Finland’s public finances is the most important economic policy step,” Anssi Rantala, chief economist at Aktia Bank Oyj, said by phone. “The government has to take seriously the gigantic deficits we have in state and municipal budgets, and it has to change the way it implements austerity: most has been through tax increases.”

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  • Former tech exec to be Finland’s next PM

    Juha Sipila led the Centre Party in Finland’s elections as voters turned from ruling coalition

    Al Jazeera, April 19

    After only a few years of party leadership, Finland’s next prime minister, Juha Sipila, beat electoral expectations by emphasizing his business acumen as a telecom executive woth millions while maintaining traditional Finnish roots that emphasize self-sufficiency.

    The vote in Finland on Sunday determined which coalition could lift the country out of a three-year recession. Sipila’s opposition Center Party took an early lead over the ruling conservatives whose leader, Prime Minister Alexander Stubb, acknowledged his government was slow to enact economic reforms.

    The conservatives were pitted against their Social Democratic government partner and the anti-immigration Finns Party that wants Greece ousted from the euro.

    The Center Party led the Finnish government from 2007 to 2011 but suffered a major loss in 2011 elections after the emergence of suspicious funding arrangements by some party members.

    Sipila, who says Finland is ready for “a shake-up and brave decisions,” has a good chance to rally support from prospective government partners to form the next coalition government, according to Jan Sundberg, professor of politics at the University of Helsinki.


    Sipila was critical of a recent hawkish Nordic defense ministers’ joint statement over Russia, and unlike Stubb, the outgoing pro-NATO prime minister, he sees military non-alignment as the best solution for Finland.

    Reuters: Millionaire businessman wins Finland vote, euroskeptics take second place

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