Centre Party ready to join government
Centre, SDP, True Finns government would rule out Greens
Centre Party Parliamentary group chairman Kimmo Tiilikainen anticipated on Sunday that the party’s MPs are ready to negotiate on the formation of a majority government. “The signature and the profile remain open”, he said.
Tiilikainen would not predict under whose leadership the party would go into negotiations. Now the person leading efforts to find a viable coalition is National Coalition Party leader Jyrki Katainen, but there are strong forces within the Centre Party who would prefer cooperation with the Social Democratic Party.
“The Centre is a group that is capable of cooperation. We move with the issues in the forefront”, Tiilikainen said.
Tiilikainen also wants the True Finns to take part in the government talks. The Centre Party’s Parliamentary group meets on Monday to discuss the situation.
On Sunday Centre Party secretary Timo Laaninen called for using nearly any means possible to get the True Finns into government. “A serious attempt needs to be made to bring them along. The matter needs to be assessed well one more time”, he said.
Jyrki Katainen’s attempt to form a government encountered problems on Wednesday when the National Coalition Party was unable to reach an agreement on economic policy issues with the Social Democrats and the Left Alliance. Katainen said that he would start negotiations with the Centre.
True Finns chairman Timo Soini told Helsingin Sanomat on Sunday that no government can be formed without the True Finns.
If the government were formed by the National Coalition, the Centre, the Greens and the Christian Democrats, the government would have a narrow majority of 105 out of the 200 seats in Parliament.
Soini also feels that other parties are coming to the True Finns’ point of view on the EU bailout issue.
A key negotiator for the National Coalition Party said that Katainen and Soini will have to re-open all options for a solution.
One possible solution discussed within the National Coalition Party was that the party would allow the True Finns to abstain in votes on EU subsidy issues, and that Soini would accept merely abstaining in such votes, and would not actually vote against the measures.
“However, he tried to suggest abstaining to his own MPs and took a hit”, the source said.
An online questionnaire was circulated among members of the Centre Party to ascertain their views on government formation. The results of the survey, to which Centre Party members have responded heavily, are coming out in the afternoon.
Centre Party deputy chairwoman Annika Saarikko said on a morning television programme on Monday that a majority of Centre Party members want to join government formation talks.
One of the participants in an online discussion pointed out that veteran Centre Party politician Johannes Virolainen had once said that the party should always go into the government, if it can.
Social Democratic Party secretary Mikael Jungner sees Tiilikainen’s expression of willingness to join the government to be “good news”.
Jungner expects Jyrki Katainen to say on Tuesday what has been achieved on which parties will form a new government.
“The negotiations have lasted so long that this is getting to hurt the country”, Jungner said.
On Sunday, the Social Democrats were in contact with Centre Party leaders. The aim is to persuade the Centre to agree to the formation of a government with the Social Democrats and the True Finns.
In such a scenario the inclusion of the True Finns would drop the Greens out of the picture automatically.
Green League chairwoman Anni Sinnemäki said on Sunday that working in the same government with the Centre Party would not seem like an easy alternative for the Greens.
The party’s Parliamentary group and delegate council are holding discussions on Monday on whether or not the Greens want to join a government with the National Coalition Party, the Centre Party, the Swedish People’s Party and the Christian Democrats.
The views of the Greens might prove largely irrelevant, if Katainen invites the True Finns, which made the biggest gains in the recent Parliamentary elections, to join the talks, as the Greens and the True Finns have both ruled out being in the same government.
Sinnemäki said nevertheless that having the True Finns in the government would be a natural outcome of the election result. She feels that the success of the party was a reflection of increased inequality and poverty in Finland.
She said that the True Finns had shirked government responsibility, thereby placing pressure on the other parties. However, she also says that the party has shown “that it has no intentions of doing anything to change this country.”
“I am not at all sure that in government they would be able to ease the dissatisfaction of people, or to resolve the issues for which people have voted for them”, Sinnemäki said.
The failure of the government talks last week was a disappointment for the Greens. Sinnemäki feels that there was a perfectly adequate tax policy proposal on the table, which would have narrowed income differences.
Sinnemäki blames both the National Coalition Party and the Social Democrats for the failure, faulting them for a lack of willingness to compromise.
The Greens hold a party congress in Kuopio in the coming weekend. The party will elect a new chair; Sinnemäki is seeking re-election. There are three challengers, one of whom is the party’s Parliamentary group leader Ville Niinistö, who is seen as the advance favourite.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Social Democrats walked out of government talks despite winning many concessions (3.6.2011)
Centre Party keeps doors open to left and right on government front (3.6.2011)
THURSDAY: Social Democrats and Left Alliance quit government talks – SDP and National Coalition Party blame each other (2.6.2011)