Tuesday’s big news was the departure of Prime Minister Antti Rinne.
His hand was eventually forced over his failure to adequately explain how and why he and his SDP colleague and Minister for State Ownership Steering Sirpa Paatero had handled a plan to lower pay for 700 postal workers.
The ex-union boss was premier for six months, first establishing and then leading a coalition of five parties but it was one of those parties — the Centre — that eventually did for him.
Iltalehti has a detailed story based on a groupchat of Centre Party MPs suggesting that Rinne’s fate was sealed on Friday evening after Posti published a statement suggesting the government had been informed about their pay reduction plan.
By that point, Paatero had already resigned as the minister who had been in charge of managing contacts with Posti.
IL reports that Paatero’s scalp wasn’t enough for Centre MPs from ‘revivalist movement and business’ backgrounds, referencing the twin pillars of Centre support among rural entrepreneurs and Laestadian Lutheran groups.
Business leaders in the Centre Party have been uncomfortable, according to IL, with a PM who had such a strong trade union background.
Revenge in mind
Messages seen by the paper include one from ex-PM Juha Sipilä, sent on Friday in response to other MPs saying their party faithful out in the provinces were unhappy with Rinne.
"Yep, that’s all I’ve heard too. Are we having a parliamentary group meeting before the confidence vote debate?"
Other MPs chimed in and even those cautious about getting rid of the premier were suggesting that more explanations were needed if the party was to lend Rinne its support this week.
Publicity-hungry Lapland MP Mikko Kärnä chimed in to suggest supporting SDP MP Antti Lindtman as an alternative, as revenge for the 2003 machinations when the SDP had lost confidence in and sought the resignation of Centre PM Anneli Jäätteenmäki.
"Give the job to Lindtman. Remember [the] Jäätteenmäki [affair]," said Kärnä.
In terms of entertainment, IL clearly beat tabloid rival Ilta-Sanomat which published the historic but rather dry email in which Centre group chair Antti Kurvainen officially told Rinne that the Centre Party did not have confidence in his leadership.
The email was sent on Tuesday at 10:29, shortly before Rinne said his goodbyes to the SDP parliamentary group and went to see the president to submit his resignation.
SDP direction change?
HS looks at the new premier, who is likely to be appointed next week. The two candidates are Antti Lindtman, the 37-year-old Uusimaa MP who heads up the SDP’s parliamentary caucus, and Sanna Marin, the Transport Minister from Tampere who at 34 would be Finland’s youngest-ever Prime Minister.
The two options represent clearly divergent paths, according to HS reporter Marko Junkkari. He characterises Marin as an idealist and Lindtman as an realist, outlining the difference in approach as follows:
"In Marin’s opinion it would be good if the SDP’s election programme included a ban on internal combustion engines. Lindtman might be of the same opinion but he certainly wouldn’t write it in the election manifesto."
Marin has the support of Rinne, with whom Lindtman’s relations have been 'cool', according to HS. whether Rinne’s support is an advantage or disadvantage remains to be seen, as the party meets next week.
Lindtman's ability to work with parties to the right of the SDP would be greater than Marin's according to Junkkari. Under Marin, therefore, there would be a greater chance of a red-green 'block' developing in Finland, in which left-of-centre parties work together and broader coalitions rare, as is the case in Sweden.