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Names of new Finnish cabinet ministers emerge

The names of Finland's new ministers began to drip out on Monday, but will not be finalised until Tuesday.

Hallitusinfossa vasemmalta Pekka Haavisto, Juha Sipilä, Antti Rinne, Li Andersson ja Anna-Maja Henriksson.
The party chairs at the Oodi library (from left): Pekka Haavisto (Greens), Juha Sipilä (Centre), Antti Rinne (SDP), Li Andersson (Left) and Anna-Maja Henriksson (SPP). Image: Pekka Tynell / Yle

Speaking at Helsinki's main library on Monday morning, Prime Minister-designate Antti Rinne announced that his new government will include 19 ministers from five parties – but did not reveal the names of the new cabinet members. They will likely be confirmed by the parties on Tuesday.

The ministers will most likely include the party chairs who flanked Rinne at the event, except for outgoing PM Juha Sipilä, whose Centre Party is continuing in government despite suffering dramatic defeats in April's parliamentary election. After that, Sipilä announced that he would step down when the party elects a new leader at an extraordinary conference in September.

"I led my own party to a major electoral defeat, so I am not available for a position of responsibility, not as a minister or speaker of Parliament. This is my way of taking responsibility in this situation," Sipilä said on Monday. The Centre has been handed five portfolios: Finance, Economy, Defense, Agriculture and a new combined Science and Culture portfolio, under the Education Ministry.

SDP deputy chair Sanna Marin, who led the party through much of last winter's election campaign while Rinne was on sick leave, is on the other hand widely expected to hold a cabinet seat. The SDP will hold seven portfolios, including Labour, European Affairs, Local Government and state ownership steering, Transport, Development and Foreign Trade, Family Affairs and Social Services.

SPP in justice, equality and Nordic posts

After the event, Swedish People's Party (SPP) chair Anna-Maja Henriksson said that MP Thomas Blomqvist from Raseborg, western Uusimaa, will be minister of equality and Nordic cooperation. Yle has learned that Henriksson will resume her old post of justice minister, which she held in two cabinets between 2011 and 2015.

Left Alliance chair Li Andersson, the youngest of the five government party chairs at 32, told Yle that she is interested in the position of education minister. Like the SPP, her party has been allocated two seats in the cabinet. Besides education, it will oversee social affairs and health.

Greens take foreign affairs, environment and climate portfolios

Greens chair Pekka Haavisto, a former environment minister and UN official, is widely expected to become the new foreign minister. That role will be key as Finland takes on the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union on 1 July. His party will hold three seats in the new cabinet, with one likely to be the renamed post of Minister for the Environment and Climate.

According to the daily Helsingin Sanomat, former Greens MP Oras Tynkkynen hopes to take that post, despite losing his seat in Parliament in April, only earning a spot as a substitute. Tynkkynen, a former leader of the Greens parliamentary delegation, was Advisor on Climate Policy to former Centre Party PM Matti Vanhanen. He is now a senior advisor on the carbon-neutral circular economy at the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra and a Tampere city councillor. Finnish government ministers are usually – but not necessarily – members of parliament.

The Greens are to chose their ministers on Tuesday. MP Maria Ohisalo, the only candidate to take over from Haavisto as party chair later this month, is also expected to take on a cabinet post. The Greens' third seat will be Minister of the Interior.

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