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Centre Party to lose €2.6m in state funding post-election

The Social Democrats, Greens and Left Alliance will correspondingly see their coffers grow in line with their MP tally.

 Juha Sipilä vaalivalvojaisissa Helsingissä.
Centre Party chair Juha Sipilä on election night. Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä's Centre Party suffered a historic defeat at the polls on 14 April and its loss of 18 seats means it will also lose more than 2.6 million euros in political party funding from the state.

Since 1967, the Finnish government has paid about 30 million euros annually – close to 150,000 euros per MP – to support the activities of Finland's parliamentary political parties. Half of the money awarded by the state each year is meant to support the party in general, and the other half is intended for use in the party's information and communication work.

Because this support is distributed according to the number of parliamentary seats each party holds, the Centre Party will lose upwards of 2.6 million euros in funding, a loss that party secretary Riikka Pirkkalainen says will likely lead to restructuring.

"This means we will have to adapt, and of course, it feels bad," she said.

Pirkkalainen said she can't say yet whether the loss will lead to a reduction in the number of personnel in its party offices or district organisations.

"Party leaders will make the final decision about any changes to the budget and where possible adjustments can be made," she said.

The Centre Party will take a hard hit when it loses some of its government support, but it will not lead to an economic crisis, as the party's finances are now in order.

"After the 2011 election, the Centre Party was in much worse financial shape and had outstanding debt. During Juha Sipilä's term as chair, the party's finances were straightened out and so the situation is now better than it was before," Pirkkalainen said.

Gains for parties winning new seats

The Social Democratic Party (SDP) won 40 seats in the election, an increase that will translate into a 900,000-euro injection of more annual state support moving forward. This boost will bring state-funded support for the SDP up to around six million euros per year.

Back in 2015, when the shoe was on the other foot and the SDP had its worst election result ever, it had to respond to the cut in funding by limiting the publication rate of its party bulletin, among other things.

The Left Alliance won four more parliamentary seats, which means 600,000 more euros in yearly support, bringing their annual sum to almost 2.4 million euros.

Success at the polls will also provide a welcome shot of support for the Green Party. With five new seats, they will receive 740,000 euros more each year in state funding, a 33 percent increase on their previous state funding amount.

Green party secretary Lasse Miettinen says the boost is important because the Greens do not have large individual donors such as foundations. Finland's Greens have traditionally had to rely on donations from private donors to meet their expenses, in addition to annual state funding.

Miettinen said the party hasn't decided yet on how to use its new resources, and expected that the next few months would be spent considering it.

"But I can say at this point that all of the money will be directed towards changing the world – in other words, taking us in the direction that our voters are hoping for," he said.

Only slight improvement for Finns Party and NCP

The Finns Party, with its third consecutive strong election showing, will receive only slightly more support from the state, as it picked up only one more parliamentary seat in the general election. Even so, its 39-seat total means it collects over 5.7 million euros in state support each year.

Likewise, the National Coalition Party's one additional seat puts its annual support at slightly more than 5.5 million euros.

The figures used to calculate the state funding changes in this report are from last year's government budget estimate. However, the final allocations may differ, as the new government coalition will determine the amount of annual support once it assumes office.

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