SDP sets up committee to analyse causes of election defeat
In order to assess the reasons for their stinging election defeat at the weekend, which looks likely to send the party into opposition, the Social Democratic Party has set up a committee to investigate the matter. Antti Kalliomäki, the Minister of Education, is to lead the inquiry.
As Kalliomäki was not directly involved in the planning of the SDP election campaign, he will be able to analyse the situation without prejudice, said Party Chairman Eero Heinäluoma.
The general impression among Social Democrats is that this was "the third round of the Presidential Elections", with runner-up Sauli Niinistö having gained over 60,000 votes for the National Coalition Party. Niinistö had lost only narrowly to incumbent President Tarja Halonen just over a year ago.
According to Erkki Tuomioja, the Foreign Minister, the party's ideas are popular while the party itself is rejected for some reason. Tuomioja believes that some changes should be made.
However, Heinäluoma's position is not under threat, assured Party Secretary Maarit Feldt-Ranta.
When asked about his sense of responsibility for the defeat, Heinäluoma stated in a press conference on Tuesday that the party management takes responsibility for the entire campaign. Mistakes were made, and nobody else is to be blamed, he added.
The SDP puts the blame partly on the low voter turnout. The results were decisively low in their traditionally strong constituencies of Kymi, Northern Karelia, Uusimaa, and South Savo, Heinäluoma reported.
Heinäluoma noted further that the party's campaign programme and government policy did not contradict each other, and that the loss of seats was not to be attributed to the decisions the government had made, either.
Nevertheless, some SDP members feel that the two coalition parties were assessed unequally.
"While Social Democrats were criticized for everything that the government had failed to do, the Centre Party was allowed to enjoy all the good results", writes Jukka Gustafsson, the Deputy Chair of the SDP Parliamentary Group, on his blog.
The party leadership of the Centre Party and the National Coalition Party also discussed the election results on Tuesday.
The Chairman of the Centre Party, Matti Vanhanen, is to start negotiations to form a new government. Unofficial talks began already on Monday.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Centre-right grouping offers only viable majority government in new Parliament (19.3.2007)
Incumbent Prime Minister Vanhanen anticipates four-party government (20.3.2007)