Juha Sipilä, chairman of the Centre Party, and Antti Rinne, the government negotiator (the SDP), introducing the new government program to the public and media at the Oodi Central Library in Helsinki on June 3, 2019. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
Li Andersson, chairwoman of the Left Alliance, Antti Rinne, chairman of the SDP Party, and Juha Sipilä, chairman of the Centre Party, arriving at the Oodi Central Library in Helsinki to introduce the new government program on June 3, 2019. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
On Monday morning the five-party coalition assembled by Antti Rinne of SDP held a public press conference in Helsinki’s Oodi Library, where they unveiled their government’s new policy platform and announced the allocation of ministerial portfolios among the coalition members.
In the new cabinet, the Social Democrats will hold the office of the prime minister and seven ministerial portfolios, covering European Affairs, Local Government and Ownership Steering, Foreign Trade and Development, Family Affairs and Social Services, Transport and Employment.
The Centre Party, the second biggest coalition partner, will take five ministerial spots, ranging from Finance and Economic Affairs to Defence, among others. The Greens will have three ministers in the cabinet, including one in charge of Environment and Climate Change.
The two smaller members of the coalition, the Left Alliance and the Swedish People’s Party, will both be in charge of two ministerial portfolios. The SPP will be taking over the Ministry of Justice while the Left Alliance will be in charge of Social Affairs and Health, as well as Education. In these two sectors, the left-wing party is sure to try to reverse the “activation model” policy introduced by the previous government by boosting public expenditure.
This also appears to be the central strategy of the new government as a whole, as the SDP-led coalition will end the austerity measures of Sipilä’s cabinet by increasing government spending for a whopping 1.2 billion euros. In order to offset some of the cost, the new government intends to raise taxes on alcohol, tobacco and fuel.
The new government aims to build an “inclusive and competent Finland” and transform the country into a “socially, economically and ecologically sustainable society by 2030.” This will be achieved by strengthening the Nordic welfare state model, particularly in the field of education, which Rinne considers crucial for fostering a “highly-skilled population” and boosting employment to the desired target of over 75 percent.
To achieve the latter, the platform strives for a “business-friendly and competitive country,” but emphasizes that “the economy is managed for the people, not the other way around.”
In addition to enabling young people quality education, the government platform promises to ensure care for the elderly as well.
As Rinne indicated prior to the government negotiations, addressing environmental concerns will be one of the flagship projects of the new government, which hopes that Finland will show the way “in mitigating climate change and protecting biodiversity.”
In foreign affairs, the new government will pursue “peace, respect for human rights and cooperation,” and seek to be an active member of the European Union in particular.