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Ex-NCP MP comes out against key reform—gov't majority down to 3

The government's majority committed to voting for the reform will disappear if two more government party legislators jump ship.

Kansanedustaja Harry "Hjallis" Harkimo.
Harry Harkimo Image: Emmi Korhonen / Lehtikuva

Harry Harkimo has said he will vote against the government's planned reform of social and health care, following a survey his grassroots 'Movement Now' organisation. Harkimo told Yle that he made his decision after polling opinion among the roughly 4,000 members of his online political movement 'Liike Nyt', or 'Movement Now'.

"The last straw was the poll of Movement Now members where 90 percent voted for the development of the old (health and social care) system," said Harkimo, who quit the NCP in April. "10 percent voted to develop and improve the government's plan. That looks pretty devastating to me."

At present the government parties have 104 MPs. That dropped from 105 in June when former Centre Party politician Paavo Väyrynen returned to parliament from his stint as an MEP. He has left the party and signalled he would vote against the 'Sote' reform, unlike his substitute Mikko Kärnä who has now left parliament.

Speaker Paula Risikko of the National Coalition does not vote, bringing the government ranks down to 103.

National Coalition MPs Elina Lepomäki and Susanna Koski have already said they will vote against the reform package, leaving the government able to rely on just 101 votes as it tries to push through the controversial reform.

Reduced majority

That leaves 98 MPs expected to vote against the historic reforms with 101 voting to push them through. If two MPs from the government benches change their minds, there would no longer be enough votes to pass the laws.

Harkimo said that his movement plans to present its own reform plan after consulting with experts, which would be more of an evolution than the revolution the government has planned. Movement Now was founded with media personalities Mikael Jungner and Tuomas Enbuske after Harkimo resigned the NCP whip, saying he wanted to establish a new way of doing politics through online and grassroots engagement.

"We currently have Europe's most efficient and cost-efficient model," said Harkimo, citing a recent study. "In my opinion the best option would be to develop this existing model. It should be developed without such massive changes as the government has in mind."

Harkimo said he's sure the government's plan won't be passed by parliament, and the government would likely not even bring it to a vote.

"This whole reform is too big and too opaque," said Harkimo. "Nobody can say that it will save money. I don't understand how such a big reform can be driven through."

The bill is currently at the committee stage with the government hoping to bring it to a vote in parliament this year.

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