Social Democratic Party chair Antti Rinne has blossomed into what appears to be an expert negotiator who led disciplined and smooth talks to form Finland's new five-party coalition, according to political commentator Sini Korpinen and world politics professor Teivo Teivainen.
Dubbed the "Famous Five" by Swedish People's Party Anna-Maja Henriksson, the new cabinet was sworn into office by President Sauli Niinistö on Thursday afternoon, bringing an end to weeks of discussions involving Rinne's SDP, the Centre Party led by former PM Juha Sipilä, Pekka Haavisto's Green Party, the Left Alliance led by Li Andersson, and the SPP.
Following a parliamentary election in April, Korpinen had tapped Petteri Orpo's National Coalition Party to join a Rinne-led administration. However Teivainen observed that the parties proved to be too far apart on key issues to allow them to cooperate in government.
Korpinen noted that while the Centre Party may have had to concede ground on some issues, it did emerge a winner as it is still in government and was also able to push through its goal of creating 18 regional administrations to deliver social and health care services as part of an ambitious reform package.
Boost for Haavisto's possible presidential aspirations
With Rinne as premier, the Centre's Mika Lintilä, a former economic affairs minister, will assume the finance minister portfolio, while the Greens' Haavisto will be foreign minister. Teivainen noted that Haavisto will be surfing the Green wave that characterised the Finnish general election as well as recent European Parliament elections. Finnish foreign policy will more closely resemble EU foreign policy, particularly on climate issues, he added.
According to Teivainen, as a skilled and well-respected international negotiator, Haavisto's foreign minister portfolio could well help set up another presidential election bid for the Greens chair.
With the Finns Party now the largest party in opposition, Teivainen said voters can expect to see chair Jussi Halla-aho adopt an even tougher stance on immigration as well as on social welfare issues. Korpinen said that if the NCP, which is now also occupying opposition benches, finds common ground with the Finns Party, it could drive more liberal NCP voters toward the Greens.
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