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Rinne cabinet wins first confidence vote in old-school paper ballot

The opposition conservative party pressed the cabinet over employment, but did not ask the Finns Party to co-sign.

Pääministeri, SDP:n puheenjohtaja Antti Rinne lippuäänestyksessä eduskunnan täysistunnossa 4. lokakuuta 2019.
PM Antti Rinne casts a ballot during a plenary session of Parliament on 4 October. Image: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva

Four months into its term, the Finnish government led by Social Democratic chair Antti Rinne easily survived the first vote of no confidence brought by an opposition party.

The interpellation fell by a vote of 97-75, with MPs walking up to cast traditional paper ballots due to a glitch in the electronic voting system that usually lets them vote from their seats.

The second-largest opposition party the conservative National Coalition Party (NCP) had filed the interpellation over the issue of employment, demanding that the six-party government explain what concrete measures it will use to reach its employment target of 75 percent.

In Parliament on Tuesday, the NCP asked government ministers to explain how much was being added to next year’s budget in permanent expenditures compared to permanent revenues, and how the cabinet intended to balance the budget by the end of its term if employment does not improve as it hopes.

Ministers responded to the questions, insisting that employment measures were proceeding according to plan. They detailed spending increases and other adjustments included in their budget framework plan agreed in late summer.

The cabinet sailed through the vote by a margin of 97-75 in the 200-seat legislature.

Technical glitch leads to rare procedure

The results of the vote were delayed due to problems with parliamentary voting devices.

Deputy Speaker of Parliament Juho Eerola of the opposition Finns Party, who chaired the plenary session, first delayed the vote by five minutes to look into the technical issue.

As that did not suffice, it was decided to carry out the vote by casting old-fashioned paper ballots. Explaining the now-rare procedure to MPs took some additional time.

The NCP did not ask the largest opposition party, the nationalist Finns Party, to co-sign its challenge, saying that it did not want to make compromises in its wording. The only non-NCP lawmaker to sign on to it was businessman Harry Harkimo, the sole representative of the Liike Nyt (Movement Now) group.

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