This upcoming spring will not only make the days lighter, they’re bound to feel longer for members of Parliament thanks to a busy political season.
Major issues lying ahead are the social welfare and health care reform, a citizens' initiative to legalize euthanasia, and navigating in the current global political climate after Brexit and US president Donald Trump’s new administration.
Tight schedule for health care reforms
The social welfare and health care reform is one of the top priorities this spring. Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s government has stipulated a tight schedule for the reforms, which is keeping even Sipilä’s Centre Party colleagues on their toes.
The key objective of the Government’s proposed reform is to create overseeing regions larger than municipalities responsible for the provision of social welfare and health care services in Finland, so only one administrative body would be in charge of a larger area. Legislation regarding this should be ready to be evaluated by Parliament by February, and local governments are expected to commence their work by the beginning of July.
New citizens' initiatives
Parliament will hear three new citizens' initiatives this spring.
The initiatives to have reached the threshold of 50 000 signatures aim to ban so-called zero hour work contracts, allow female couples the right to register as legal parents at birth, and impose harsher sentences for child sexual abuse.
Perhaps the most controversial initiative to face Parliament this spring will be one proposing the legalisation of euthanasia.
Trump and Brexit
The Parliament's EU committee, the Grand Committee, will have several pressing questions to answer. Brexit and upcoming elections in the Netherlands, France and Germany add elements of uncertainty that committee members must be ready to face on a short notice.
Trump’s new administration, Russia and the Syrian crisis are other major topics.
Premier Juha Sipilä is expected to provide a new addendum to last year’s foreign policy and security plans.
New party leaders
Shortly after April’s municipal elections, Juha Sipilä’s government is due to decide if more budget cuts are necessary or is the current rate of economic growth sufficient.
The Social Democratic Party SDP is voting for a new chair next Saturday. Current party leader Antti Rinne is leading the polls, but is against tough competition from Timo Harakka and Tytti Tuppurainen.
The Greens will choose a new chair in June, when current leader Ville Niinistö moves aside after two terms.
The Finns party could also see some drastic changes if current leader and Foreign Minister Timo Soini decides to step down or is not selected for another term. One candidate who has expressed their interest in party leadership is MEP Jussi Halla-Aho, known for his anti-immigration politics.