Tags: Finland | politics

Finland's Left Alliance Quits Government Over More Austerity

Wednesday, 26 Mar 2014 11:36 AM

Finland’s government lost a junior member as the Left Alliance, led by Paavo Arhinmaeki, said it prefers to leave rather than accept the austerity measures agreed on by the other five coalition parties.

The measures will be too harsh on those with low incomes and they were impossible to accept for a party committed to reducing income inequality, Arhinmaeki told reporters in Helsinki. The party’s departure leaves the government with 112 representatives in the 200-seat parliament, down from 124.

“In this economic situation, we could have raised taxes for high earners a little bit more,” Arhinmaeki said. “Now that there are more spending cuts than tax increases, it’s responsible of us on the left to say this isn’t alright.”

Finland’s economy has contracted on three of the past five years with demand waning within the country and exports declining as traditional paper-making and technology industries are pummeled by slack demand and competition. The government has enacted 5.5 billion euros ($7.6 billion) in austerity to keep debt from getting out of hand, Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen has said.

The ideologically conflicted Cabinet persisted on “pragmatism” since coming to power in June 2011, Katainen has said. It has survived 15 confidence votes over less than three years as the opposition sought to drive wedges between parties.

The Green League, another junior coalition partner with 10 seats in the legislature, retreated earlier this month from a threat to quit the government over the country’s expansion of nuclear power.

Party Chairman Ville Niinistoe said in an interview on March 21 that it’s premature to speculate on how the party will respond if other coalition members act against the government’s policy program, which stipulates no new nuclear-plant permits will be given before the April 2015 general elections. Departure of both parties would leave the government with 102 seats. The speaker doesn’t vote.

The Left Alliance voted to remain part of the government in November during talks to hammer out 9 billion euros worth of structural reforms. The party, founded in 1990 on the remains of the Communist Party of Finland and the Finnish People’s Democratic League, has positioned itself left of Finance Minister Jutta Urpilainen’s Social Democratic Party.

The party’s departure will be finalized “probably next week,” Arhinmaeki said.

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Finland’s government lost a junior member as the Left Alliance, led by Paavo Arhinmaeki, said it prefers to leave rather than accept the austerity measures agreed on by the other five coalition parties.
Finland,politics
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2014-36-26
Wednesday, 26 Mar 2014 11:36 AM
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