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PM Sipilä: Gov’t "very likely" to fall

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä said on Thursday evening that his government is "very likely" to fall on Friday in a dispute over proposed reforms to health and social care. His Centre Party and the National Coalition Party are at loggerheads over the number of regions in a proposed new health and social care system.

Juha Sipilä
Pääministeri Juha Sipilä tiedotustilaisuudessaan Helsingissä 5. marraskuuta. Image: Martti Kainulainen / Lehtikuva

Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipilä said he is ready to dismantle his own government if he does not get his way over proposed reforms to health and social care. Sipilä’s Centre Party, which is strong in rural areas, wants 18 new regions to manage and commission services.

Alexander Stubb’s National Coalition, meanwhile, wants a maximum of 12 new authorities. At present these services are managed by more than 150 municipal-level organs, so the changes are expected to bring substantial savings to the public finances.

On Thursday Sipilä had presented his 18-region plan to the government and to parliamentary parties. The proposal was a ‘take it or leave it’ offer, with Thursday the deadline for a final decision on the reforms. With the NCP refusing to budge without putting the proposal to a meeting of party delegates on Saturday, Sipilä held a press conference at 9pm in which he said the deadline could not be extended.

"It’s very likely that I will go to see the president tomorrow, said Sipilä. –I don’t believe extra time will help. There is enough information already."

Sipilä said that the 18-region proposal was accepted by the Centre and the Finns Party, but the NCP had already indicated it could not accept more than 12 regions. He said negotiations would continue overnight, but if no solution is found he is ready to dissolve his government.

"We’ll negotiate until the morning," said Sipilä. "I’m ready for a sleepless night. It’s also possible that a deal won’t be reached."

Sipilä indicated that if the government is to fall, he would seek to form a new cabinet from the current parliament rather than calling new elections.

Edit: This story was updated  at 09.48 to correct the number of regions from 12 to 18 in PM Sipilä's comment about the Centre and Finns parties support for his proposal.

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