Nat. Coalition Party and SDP at loggerheads after govt. talks breakdown
There was a good deal of mudslinging on Saturday between the National Coalition Party and the Social Democratic Party after the SDP walked out of government formation talks late Wednesday.
Social Democratic Party Secretary and new MP Mikael Jungner says that the National Coalition Party had gone into the government talks unprepared. He says that this caused the representatives of the party to feel that they were overrun in working groups writing a draft government programme.
“It led to confusion, and ultimately a completely unnecessary crash into a wall”, Jungner said.
Jungner found that the negotiations proceeded in an extraordinary manner. At first he was afraid that the National Coalition Party negotiators would be unyielding in their demands. However, this did not happen, and the SDP was able to adhere to many of its goals.
However, many negotiators from the National Coalition Party were angered by the negotiation style of the SDP’s main negotiator in the economic policy group, Eero Heinäluoma.
Jungner says that the Social Democrats had been on their guard with the National Coalition Party, as the poor election result of the Centre Party had not been an encouraging example of what can happen to a party that has been a government partner of the National Coalition Party.
He said that in the government formation talks in 2007 the National Coalition Party had tricked the Centre Party into accepting bigger tax cuts than the Centre Party could have imagined.
“It was quite certain for us that if we would go [into the government] with the National Coalition Party, then we would not be as easy a catch as the Centre Party was”, Jungner said.
The main negotiator of the National Coalition Party in the economic policy group, Kimmo Sasi, rejected Jungner’s claims on Saturday. Sasi said that poor preparation was more of a problem for the SDP than for his party.
Sasi feels that the failure of the negotiations was unfortunate, because he felt that a government formed on the foundation of the National Coalition Party and the SDP would have had a good opportunity to promote employment and increase stability, adding that there were good experiences of cooperation in the first and second governments of Paavo Lipponen.
However, Sasi feels that the SDP of that time was a completely different party from what it is now. Sasi feels that the main reason for the good cooperation between the two parties was Lipponen, who had a “clear vision of the direction that Finnish society needed to be taken”. Sasi feels that today’s Social Democrats suffer from a lack of vision.
Sources in both the National Coalition Party and the Social Democrats said that there had been intense discussions with other parties on Saturday. The parties did not say with whom the discussions had been held, but the leader of the government formation talks, National Coalition Party leader Jyrki Katainen, had previously said that he would meet with at least the Centre Party and the True Finns.
The SDP and the National Coalition Party had not been in contact with each other, and Katainen said that the Social Democrats would not be invited back to the negotiations.
There seemed to be a certain amount of eagerness within the Centre Party to join a new government. According to a survey commissioned by a number of provincial newspapers in the Sanoma Group, more than half of the leaders of the Centre Party’s district organisations want the party to join the government formation talks.
Veteran Centre MP Mauri Pekkarinen wrote in his blog on Thursday that the Centre Party cannot avoid its responsibility by making excuses not to go into the government, if no government can be formed otherwise. He did not make any further comment on the matter on Saturday.
Katainen’s position as the head of efforts to form a new government will be discussed on Tuesday by the Parliamentary party groups. According to answers given by Parliamentary group leaders to questions put to them by Helsingin Sanomat, it was too early on Saturday to assess Katainen’s position.
The SDP’s Jungner was not demanding that Katainen be replaced by the SDP’s Jutta Urpilainen. He said that he believed that Katainen would do everything he can to form a government. “It would be an unprecedented failure in Finnish politics if he were not able to get a government together. Katainen does not want to have that label on himself for the rest of his life.”
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)