Populist party splits in two to save Finnish coalition

Elias Hubbard
June 24, 2017

Finland's Prime Minister was to tender his coalition government's resignation on Tuesday after ousting a populist, anti-immigration and eurosceptic party whose new leader has been convicted of hate speech.

The move enables Sipila's government to carry on, as it will command at least 106 seats in the 200-seat Parliament.

Sipilä's Center Party and the National Coalition Party held a crisis meeting Monday after the True Finns chose anti-immigrant MEP Jussi Halla-aho as new head of the party.

"Talks are over", Mr Sipila and Mr Orpo said on Twitter Monday.

Political commentators in Finland said that only the Swedish People's party and the Christian Democratic Party seemed to be willing to start negotiations.

This has now changed, as the governing coalition is able to continue with New Alternative in place of the Finns Party.

Sipila and Orpo said Halla-aho's views on Finland's relationship with the European Union are not compatible with the government program. "This is not just about Jussi Halla-aho's election, but [also] about those elements that have taken over the party".

As Finland is a stranger to interim elections, Mr. Sipila, leader of the liberal Centre Party, may return to power with support from the Swedish People's Party and the Christian Democrats, which are now in the Opposition, senior officials in Helsinki said.

However, Henriksson said that she is a little surprised that Soini left the Finns Party for the splinter group, saying that she gets the impression that such a plan might have already been in place earlier.

Halla-aho said he was surprised and disappointed by the scope of the defection from his party. All the other opposition parties insisted on new elections to be arranged in autumn. Orpo called human rights the " bedrock of modern Western democracy", suggesting that only parties accepting this axiom may join the coalition.

Halla-aho has seen his star rise in recent years, in part because of his explicit writings against immigration and Islam.

"All decisions are based on values, but compromises are needed when there are three parties in the government".

Halla-aho, a 46-year-old father of five, is a former medieval language lecturer who complains that his party has been tainted by mainstream politics.

A member of the European Parliament, Halla-aho has said he wants to steer the party further to the right and push for tougher immigration policies.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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