Finnish prime minister resigns

Elias Hubbard
December 3, 2019

Social Democrat Rinne found himself in a hard place after the Finnish Centre Party, one of the coalition parties, made a decision to withdraw its backing for Rinne on Monday, saying its party had lost confidence in coalition with the prime minister.

Postal service controversy: Rinne has faced heavy criticism in recent weeks over how he and a fellow party member dealt with a two-week strike in November involving workers of Finland's state-owned postal service.

That meant that Rinne's cabinet had formally resigned and would continue on as a caretaker government.

"Losing confidence" is not a formal procedure, like a vote of no-confidence, and the Centre Party move was not directed at the Social Democrats (SDP) but specifically at Mr. Rinne. Until then, the current Cabinet will continue as a caretaker government until a new one takes over as planned on December 13, according to Finnish media.

The Centre Party is now considering whether to pull its support for the five-party coalition, a move that could lead to a snap election.

"Mr Rinne is resigning so in parliament they have to start a discussion about forming the next government. but it is very likely that this same government coalition will continue".

Rinne, a Social Democrat who has headed the centre-left government since June, handed his resignation to President Sauli Niinisto, the presidency said. The nationalist Finns Party, the second-largest group in Parliament, has seen rising popularity.

The minister in charge of state-owned firms, Sirpa Paatero of the Social Democrats, resigned in November after it emerged she had failed to block the outsourcing.

Unions had demanded to know whether the state had approved Finland Post's reform.

Late Sunday evening, the five government party chairs held a crisis meeting. On Monday evening, Rinne declined to step down, instead demanding further clarification from the Centre.

"I won't dodge the responsibility", Marin told reporters at Helsinki airport after flying back from Brussels due to the crisis.

Speaking to reporters on arrival at Helsinki Airport around 11.30am, Marin said she would "not shirk her responsibility in this hard situation".

Iltalehti says Marin is to lead attempts to form a new government.

"At 34 she'd be the youngest prime minister ever", Helsinki University political scientist Johanna Vuorelma said. The Centre's' Esko Aho was 36 when he took office in 1991.

The leader of the SDP's parliamentary group, Antti Lindtman, 37, also said he would be ready to become prime minister.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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