Juha Sipila (pictured above, right) of Finland's Center Party said on Thursday he was planning to form a coalition with the rightist Finns party. Sipila won the elections on April 19 on promises to boost his country's economy.
"This was the best option. The biggest challenge is the economic situation," 53-year-old IT millionaire Sipila said, adding that the country needed "a strong coalition that is capable of planning reforms and implementing those decisions."
Helsinki suffered three years of recession following a slowdown in Europe and the phone company Nokia's business collapse. The outgoing government coalition failed to curb debts or increase growth.
Sipila's proposed political group, which would hold 124 seats in Helsinki's 200-member parliament, would also include the center-right National Coalition headed by Alexander Stubb (above left), Finland's previous prime minister. The center-left Social Democrats would be the largest party in the opposition.
The Finns, headed by Timo Soini (above, center) want the EU to put tighter controls on immigration and bailing out other eurozone countries in times of financial crisis. Their leader Soini was famous for his anti-bailout rhetoric, but softened his stance on Greece before the imminent coalition talks.
"The situation in Greece is utterly horrible. I have my own view on how the situation should be handled, but we will together see what is possible," Soini told journalists on Thursday, adding that Greece "could not survive on its own."
The Finns, Sipila's Center Party and the National Coalition accepted a bailout for Greece in its current structure by the eurozone, but the Center Party said it wanted no further integration of the EU member states' economic policies. The party also backed doing away with Europe's financial rescue fund in the future.
All three parties are now beginning to negotiate their plans in the future government. The coalition could change if they disagreed on crucial issues. Eurosceptic Soini is likely to take over the role of finance or foreign minister, but that depends on what kind of deal the parties agree upon.
mg/gsw (AFP, Reuters)