Vanhanen puts seven questions to would-be government parties
As was expected, representatives of Finnish Parliamentary groups on Thursday gave Centre Party leader Matti Vanhanen, the Prime Minister of the outgoing government, the task of assessing the options for forming a new coalition government.
Vanhanen gave the Parliamentary groups a list of seven questions, whose answers will help him determine which parties might fit in the same government.
Vanhanen asked the parties to submit their responses by noon on Monday next week. On Tuesday he plans to hold further talks with representatives of the groups, and on Wednesday he will announce which parties will be involved in further government formation talks.
In the first question, the parties are asked how they feel economic growth should be strengthened, unemployment reduced, and positive regional development supported.
In the second question, he asks how the availability of public services should be secured as the population ages.
The third question involves an assessment on the room for manoeuvre in public finances during the Parliamentary term, and on how the leeway should be allocated for services, income transfers, tax cuts, and other targets and needs.
In the fourth question, the party groups are asked what they see as the most important ways of fighting climate change.
The fifth question concerns the parties’ views on foreign and security policy, including policy toward the European Union.
In the sixth question Vanhanen asks the parties for ideas for programmes aimed at cross-administrative policy programmes.
Finally, the Parliamentary groups are asked if they have any absolute threshold issues either for the government’s policy programme, or the parties that would be seen as acceptable for a coalition, and if the group is willing to take part in negotiations to form a majority government "on the basis of the election result".
Vanhanen expects that the second and third question at least would bring out differences between groups, while the last question might cause some group to drop out of the government negotiations. He also thinks that the energy question could prove interesting.
Vanhanen pointed out that the questions do not include issues on which there would have been agreement during the election campaign. He mentioned as examples the increase in national pensions, changes to taxation of pensioners, and the rise in student grants.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Incumbent Prime Minister Vanhanen anticipates four-party government (20.3.2007)