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SDP to pick PM candidate on Sunday, wants Rinne to lead talks

The parties in the caretaker government will try to form a new coalition before choosing a prime ministerial candidate.

Statsministerkandidaterna Sanna Marin och Antti Lindtman.
So far Antti Lindtman and Sanna Marin have thrown their hats into the ring to replace the PM. Image: Lehtikuva

The board of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) has proposed that party chair and caretaker Prime Minister Antti Rinne lead negotiations on forming a new government – a cabinet that would be led by someone else. The party's parliamentary group is to decide on the issue on Thursday afternoon.

The opposition, particularly the conservative National Coalition Party (NCP) has criticised the choice of Rinne to assemble a new cabinet, as he was ousted from the premiership earlier this week.

That came after the second-largest government partner, the Centre, expressed a vaguely-worded lack of confidence in him. Rinne resigned as PM on Tuesday but said he intended to carry on as party chair and MP.

"In historical terms, it's in no way exceptional that a departing prime minister, the speaker of Parliament or another corresponding person would lead talks on forming a new government," SDP party secretary Antton Rönnholm told Yle.

Rönnholm said the Centre Party has in no way sought to influence the choice of who will try to form a government. He said he expects the Centre to work to build trust between the government parties.

PM candidate to be chosen on Sunday

On Thursday, the SDP board also decided that the larger party council will choose a prime ministerial candidate on Sunday evening.

So far two politicians have said they would be interested in the post: Minister of Transport and Communications Sanna Marin, who is the deputy party chair and a former acting party chair, and Antti Lindtman, leader of the SDP parliamentary group.

An Yle straw poll of SDP council members on Wednesday gave Marin a narrow lead, with 20 councillors supporting her versus 14 for Lindtman. However 20 others said they had not decided yet, and seven could not be reached.

The parties aim to carry out government talks before choosing a new prime ministerial candidate. Eventually the premier will be elected by Parliament and appointed by the president.

Both Marin and Lindtman have said they do not think it would be fair for either of them to be named to form a new government at this stage. Centre politicians said on Wednesday that they were not opposed to having Rinne lead negotiations.

Friday would have marked the end of the Rinne government's first six months in office.

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