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MPs seal budget deal, begin holiday with coffee and choral music

Finnish parliamentarians have begun a nearly six-week winter recess after final votes. In February, they will choose a new Speaker of Parliament.

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MPs listen to the Sibelius High School Chamber Choir on 20 December. Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

The Finnish Parliament has adjourned for its winter break after a vote of confidence in the government. The three-party cabinet survived the vote by a margin of 101 to 86 on Wednesday. That followed final approval of next year's state budget.

MPs adjourned after a traditional coffee reception accompanied by carols sung by the Sibelius High School Chamber Choir. The legislature is to reconvene on 5 February.

Lohela to be replaced as Speaker

At that point lawmakers are to elect a new Speaker of Parliament to replace Maria Lohela of the new Blue Reform Party. She took the post in May 2015 as a member of the Finns Party, but last summer joined MPs who split off to form the Blue Reform.

She is now losing her seat as speakers are chosen from the three largest parties in Parliament, which now does not include the Blue Reform or the Finns Party.

Possible early session for presidential oath

The top slots are again held by the traditional 'big three': the prime minister's Centre with 49 seats, its main partner the conservative National Coalition Party with 38 seats, and the opposition Social Democrats with 35 representatives. The Blues and Finns Party are fourth and fifth with 19 and 17 MPs respectively.

If the presidential election is resolved by the first round on 28 January – which would be unprecedented but certainly appears possible – the legislature would reconvene in special session on 1 February to formally receive his oath of office, as stipulated by the constitution.

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