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Ex-PM Sipilä to continue as backbench MP

MPs returned to work on Tuesday after the election and the Easter break.

Keskustan puheenjohtaja Juha Sipilä saapui keskustan eduskuntaryhmän järjestäytymiskokoukseen tiistaina. Image: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva

Juha Sipilä intends to serve as a backbench MP, after resigning the Centre Party leadership following a disappointing showing in elections on 14 April.

The Centre lost 18 of the 49 seats it held prior to the election, getting just 13.8 percent of the vote.

“[Elections] are fought using the party chairs’ faces, and of course I accept the biggest responsibility for the Centre Party’s loss,” Sipilä told journalists on Tuesday as he returned to work after the Easter holiday.

Sipilä also told media that the party was unlikely to enter government after such a heavy loss, but fellow Centre MP Antti Kaikkonen left the door ajar, saying the door into government was not ‘categorically’ closed. A party congress in the autumn will elect a new leader.

Coalition formation is the next task for Finland’s newly-minted legislators, with SDP leader Antti Rinne in the driving seat after his party took 40 seats on 17.7 percent of the vote.

Swedish People’s Party chair Anna-Maja Henriksson said she had spoken to Rinne over the weekend, but wasn’t expecting to start any official negotiations today. Other party leaders said they'd talked to Rinne but remained tight-lipped on the details.

Finns Party MPs elected Ville Tavio, a second-term MP from south-west Finland, as chair of the parliamentary group. He got 21 votes while Leena Meri, who held the position last term, got 18.

MPs presented their credentials on Tuesday, with the official opening of parliament set to take place on 25 April.

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