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Home NATIONALNo early consensus in Finland on structural reform
Fri, 17 Oct, 2014 12:38:17 AM
Ftimes -Xinhua - STT Report, Oct. 17
Parliament in session on 18 September 2014. Photo – Str / Lehtikuva.
Efforts by the Finnish government to create consensus on economic reforms in the wake of a decline in the country’s credit rating last week seem to have failed, as major opposition parties announced plans on Thursday for a joint interpellation.
Opposition Centre Party leader Juha Sipila had earlier echoed the government line of speedy reforms, but changed his tone following the decision by Timo Soini, chairman of the opposition Finns Party, not to accept an invitation to take part in consultations with the government.
As the government currently has only a one-seat majority, an interpellation could bring it down.
Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb had said that early elections would be unfavourable as time would be lost due to campaigning.
However, there seems to be a lack of concrete choices in the massive debate.
Speaking to Xinhua, Martti Koskenniemi, professor of international law at Helsinki University, said that the repeated slogans about “structural changes” by Stubb are losing punch and that more details are needed.
“A rational discussion of necessary changes is not possible until new principles for distributing welfare and income will be available,” he said.
Retaining Finland’s AAA credit rating has been the key target of the government after the 2011 elections.
Koskenniemi pointed out, however, that credit rating agencies represent one angle of seeing the situation. “They are ideologically so one-sided that I would not give them a more general validity,” Koskenniemi said.
Timo Soikkanen, professor of political history at Turku University, said that consensus on major issues has not been common in Finland in recent years. In the 1960s, Finland established a wide agreement on welfare.
“But that was done in a good situation with money collected through taxes on the increase and the majority of the population were young,” he noted.
Soikkanen said he thought a consensus on structural changes could be easier to reach than a national agreement on joining NATO.
In a related development, Stubb has asked the former Swedish economic minister Anders Borg to write a report about the situation in Finland.
Stubb said he was not concerned with what kind of international message the input by Borg would send. Borg was the finance minister of the conservative-led government that left office in Sweden in September.
New agency STT adds: The details of the third interpellation tabled this autumn will be presented to the media on Friday.
The opposition parties other than the Perussuomalaiset (Finns Party) and the Suomen Keskusta (Centre Party) will not participate in the negotiation of the interpellation.
The opposition has recently queried the government on the issue of police resources and the status of low-income people.
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