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Sanna Marin: SDP not expecting invite to government formation talks

The National Coalition Party leader Petteri Orpo will need either the Finns Party or the Social Democrats to join his coalition to deliver a solid majority in Finland's 200-seat parliament.

Sanna Marin och Antti Lindtman anländer till mötet med Petteri Orpo.
Finland's outgoing Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) arriving to meet her successor-elect Petteri Orpo (NCP) on Monday afternoon. Image: Lehtikuva
Yle News

Finland's Social Democrats are not expecting to join the next government, after the government formation process took another stop forward on Monday.

Prime Minister-elect Petteri Orpo (NCP) met with the leaders of four parliamentary parties — including outgoing PM Sanna Marin (SDP) — as efforts to find the right fit for Finland's next government continued on Monday.

During a press conference following Marin's meeting with Orpo, the SDP leader described the talks as "businesslike" but noted that her party will not be waiting expectantly for an invitation from the NCP to begin coalition formation talks.

"Nothing very new came up in this meeting, and nothing surprising," Marin stated, adding that the outside chance the NCP will want to form a government with the SDP — a so-called red-blue coalition — has not changed.

Marin further noted that while the two parties are very close to each other in many respects, there are differences on the economy, labour market issues and the state finances.

"We have discussed things, but there have not been very many moves from the NCP towards the SDP," said Marin.

In order to build a coalition with a solid majority in the 200-seat Parliament, Orpo must form a main partnership with either the second-biggest bloc, the nationalist Finns Party led by Riikka Purra, or Marin's third-place Social Democratic Party.

"It has been apparent for a long time that the NCP is seeking cooperation with the Finns Party," Marin told reporters on Monday.

Henriksson: SPP ready to talk

Earlier in the day, Orpo met with representatives of the Swedish People's Party (SPP), with party leader Anna-Maja Henriksson telling reporters that the discussion was "constructive".

"We have a similar view of the situation. Finland needs to achieve growth and attract more people to work here. And society should be such that people stay involved," Henriksson said.

However, Henriksson added that the possibility of her party and the NCP entering a coalition together was not discussed during Monday's meeting, despite the fact that the SPP may prove to have a pivotal role in the make-up of the next coalition government.

Anna-Maja Henriksson.
Swedish People's Party leader Anna-Maija Henriksson speaking to the media following her Monday morning meeting with Petteri Orpo. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

Henriksson also confirmed that her party has not held any informal talks with any other potential coalition partners, such as the Finns Party.

The views of the SPP and the Finns Party diverge significantly on a number of key issues, especially immigration. Henriksson noted, and welcomed, the fact that the NCP wants to increase work-based immigration into Finland.

"I think it is a good starting point for these negotiations," she said, adding that her party would be ready to enter government formation talks "if the invitation comes", although further noted that negotiations would not be easy.

Greens: Responsibility is with election winners

Following Orpo's meeting with Henriksson, he met with delegates from the Green Party, including outgoing leader Maria Ohisalo.

Ohisalo has previously stated that the threshold for her party to join the next coalition is "extremely high", with the party not willing to move on a number of issues — such as Finland achieving carbon neutrality by 2035 as well as opposition to cuts to education and culture.

She also reiterated her party's pre-election position that it would not be willing to enter a government with the Finns Party, meaning any potential participation within the next administration could only happen if Orpo finds common ground with the SDP.

Maria Ohisalo.
Maria Ohisalo responded to reporters' questions after meeting with Petteri Orpo. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

Following the meeting, Ohisalo told reporters that the responsibility for forming the next government lies with the parties that did well in the election.

"Now the ball is in Petteri Orpo's court, and he will consider the best options with which to move on to the next stage," Ohisalo said, adding that she was pleased to see Orpo's list of government formation questions contained themes she considered to be important.

The Greens suffered a crushing defeat in the April election, losing seven of their 20 parliamentary seats.

Harkimo: Movement Now joining coalition "unrealistic"

Orpo began Monday's series of meetings with the leader of Movement Now, Hjallis Harkimo, who is his party's sole representative in parliament.

Although Harkimo told reporters that the meeting "went well", he said he considered it unlikely that his party would be part of Orpo's coalition.

"One MP in government? I don't see it as realistic that they would ask us to join," Harkimo said, adding that his party "does not fit in this jigsaw".

Instead, Harkimo predicted that the next government will consist of the NCP, the Finns Party, the Swedish People's Party and the Christian Democrats.

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