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Parliament passes historic social and healthcare reform

The votes were tallied at 105 in favour and 77 against, with 17 MPs absent.

tyhjä eduskuntasali
The reform was backed by 105 MPs in the 200-seat legislature. Image: Emmi Korhonen / Lehtikuva

The government of Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) scored a win on Wednesday as Parliament approved its plan to reform Finland's social and healthcare services, known as Sote, after a process that has frustrated successive governments over the past decade.

The vote on Wednesday afternoon was won by the government on a margin of 105-77, with no abstentions. Seventeen MPs were absent from the chamber.

The result of the vote will lead to a historic change in how social and healthcare services are organised and provided. Responsibility is set to pass from Finland's 293 municipalities to 21 regional authorities plus the city of Helsinki by the beginning of 2023.

Provincial elections to decide the make-up of each regional authority are scheduled for early 2022.

The vote followed party lines, with all government MPs in the chamber voting in favour, and all opposition MPs present voting against.

Three members of the Green Party had indicated before the vote their intention to reject their own coalition government's proposal, but none present voted against. Five Green Party MPs were absent.

Successive governments have failed to get the reform over the line, with the administration of former Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Cen) resigning over the issue in 2019.

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