Left Alliance chair Li Andersson has called for a careful assessment of Finland's possible Nato membership due to the changed situation in Europe.
Addressing a party council meeting on Saturday, Andersson said that a decision to apply for Nato membership would no longer be a trigger for her party to quit the government.
The party joined the SDP-led coalition government three years ago on the stipulation that it would not lead the country toward any military alliance. The five-party cabinet has just over a year left in office.
According to Andersson, Finland has no completely risk-free or problem-free alternatives.
She declined to state her own stance on the question, arguing that decision-makers should allow a free public debate before revealing their own views.
"[We] state leaders have been criticised for not presenting our own positions on Nato," she said. "But what is the point of launching an analysis of different options if the decision-makers responsible have already locked in a certain position and informed everyone of that?"
The education minister called for an open debate on the subject within the Left Alliance, traditionally Finland's most staunchly anti-Nato party.
Growing support for membership among leftists
Andersson stressed the importance of gauging public opinion on the issue. Backers of the Left Alliance have called for a referendum before any decision on applying to join the alliance – a process that would likely take more than a year.
An Yle poll published this week showed growing support for Nato membership among backers of the Left Alliance, though support remained lower than among other parties. A majority of backers of all other parties support membership.
The poll suggested that more leftists now support Nato membership than oppose it, with many undecided.
The Left Alliance party council is launching a review various options and their impact on security in Finland and Europe. However, the party does not plan to decide on its official line before a conference in Pori next June.
The Left Alliance was established in 1990 as the main successor of the Finnish People's Democratic League (SKDL), which was formed around the old pro-Soviet Communist Party of Finland.