On Monday, newly-elected Members of Parliament gathered for the first time in the legislature’s "Little Parliament" annex building. Those who earned a seat in the 19 April election presented their official documents for scrutiny.
The process was a bit baffling for newcomers such as Hanna Sarkkinen, a newly-minted Left Alliance MP from Oulu.
“This has all been quite a whirlwind,” she told Yle. “I’m still a bit nervous, but sure I’ll manage.”
Finland seemed to take a step in a more conservative direction when ballots were cast. For instance, first-timer Susanna Koski, 30, of the National Coalition Party (NCP) ran as a young conservative.
“When you look at our new NCP Parliamentary group, there are a lot of new MPs who certainly support traditional values,” Koski said.
More police officers join legislature
The election of Finns Party candidates Veera Ruoho and Kari Kulmala brings the party’s number of MPs with police backgrounds from four to five, even though former MP Ismo Soukola lost his place.
“I think that in their work, police officers confront phenomena on the margins of society and things that can be influenced in Parliament. That’s why many police are interested in coming to work in Parliament,” Ruoho theorised. “For me, it’s important that Finland remains as safe as it has been.”
The new MPs speculated about the government formation negotiations, set to begin next week after the May Day holiday weekend. Some representatives of the parties on the left expect to remain in opposition due to their parties’ weak electoral results, but incoming SDP rep Ilmari Nurminen takes a different view.
“I represent the view that since half a million people voted for us, then we have to try to get into the government,” says Nurminen, who at 24 is the Parliament’s youngest member by several years.
“If you look at our election results, they don’t provide a terribly strong basis for us joining the government, but let’s see how the negotiations proceed,” said the Left Alliance's Sarkkinen.
Antti Kurvinen, a rookie MP from the overwhelming election winner, the Centre Party, says there is at least one party that should be in the cabinet with his.
“As I see it, the Finns Party should carry some of the responsibility and join the government with the Centre, along with one or two other parties for company,” said Kurvinen. He declined to say which he would prefer as a second partner: the NCP or the SDP.
“Let’s look at how these third and fourth-place parties answer the questions that have now been put to them. The most essential thing is certainly the ability to get along," he added.
The new and old MPs get down to business on Tuesday as they elect new speakers for the legislature. During the period of government talks, they are expected to be Centre chair Juha Sipilä, with Finns Party chair Timo Soini and long-time NCP parliamentary group leader Ben Zyskowicz serving as deputy speakers.