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Government leaders meet to dispel Terho's “crisis of confidence”

The chair of the cabinet’s junior partner said that a government crisis had been averted, but the other party chairs downplayed Wednesday’s talks.

Sampo Terho
File photo of Sampo Terho, Finland's Minister for European Affairs, Culture and Sport. Image: Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva

The head of the smallest government party, the Blue Reform, says that a “crisis of confidence” within the cabinet has been resolved.

Sampo Terho, Minister for European Affairs, Culture and Sport, says that differences of opinion which arose last week were ironed out when the three party chairs sat down for talks on Wednesday. He described the talks as constructive, adding that all of the parties’ views had been aired and that the main goals of the government’s agenda could now be reached.

Last week Terho accused the conservative National Coalition Party (or NCP) of provoking a government crisis or even collapse. That followed the surprise defection of a Blue Reform MP to the conservatives.

Terho called for the leaders of the three coalition partners to meet as soon as possible to discuss their future cooperation. They were in contact by phone, but due to travel schedules, a face-to-face meeting was postponed until after the May Day holiday.

Storm in a teacup?

The conservative leader, finance minister Petteri Orpo, said then that Terho was overreacting and denied that his party had recruited MP Kaj Turunen to switch party allegiance. On Wednesday he said that the meeting had not really been unnecessary, but now that it was done, the cabinet could move on.

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä also played down the talks.

“Perhaps there was not such major drama here as was one was given to believe. These things were clarified by discussions – actually last week already,” the premier said.

The kerfuffle came as the three-way coalition enters the final year of its expected four-year term with a narrow majority in Parliament, where the fledgling Blue Reform is struggling to retain its seats. The group split off from the populist Finns Party last year, taking its place in the government after the larger party elected a hardline anti-immigration politician as its chair.

The government is also beginning the final push for its long-delayed social and health care policy overhaul, known as sote.

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