National Coalition Party chair Petteri Orpo emerged from a party leadership meeting on Tuesday to carefully signal his party's readiness to join government formation talks following Sunday’s parliamentary election.
Orpo said at a news conference Tuesday that there may be room to manoeuvre in some areas and noted that according to tradition, the position of Speaker of Parliament goes to the party that captured the second-highest proportion of votes, in this case, the Finns Party.
The NCP came away from the election with 38 parliamentary seats, just behind the populist Finns Party’s 39 and the Social Democratic Party’s 40 seats.
NCP not the "bad cop"
Orpo told journalists that he believed that it would be possible to agree on a government programme with SDP chair Antti Rinne, adding that he was distancing himself from the concept of "red lines" that cannot be compromised. He noted that the larger the government’s majority the stronger its parliamentary base would be.
"I am distancing myself from that term. Responsible economic and employment policies are among the important issues for the NCP. However the NCP isn’t hankering after joining the government. It all depends on the policy programme," he noted.
"We will not join the government at any cost. It is possible for the NCP to participate in the work of government if we can create a shared and realistic picture of the state of the national economy. And agree on what kind of change the government wants to effect in Finland," he added.
However he stressed that his party would not be the "bad cop" in government that always says "no".
Commenting on the possibility of the Finns Party joining the governing coalition, Orpo said that the nationalist party’s election surge should be taken seriously. "The NCP respects the election result," he remarked.