Finnish PM seeks to bring down his coalition government

Finland's centrist Prime Minister Juha Sipila said Monday that his party and its conservative allies wanted to end their governing coalition with the eurosceptic Finns party, after it elected as president a hardliner convicted of hate speech.

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.

The comment was echoed by the finance minister, Petteri Orpo, leader of the third coalition partner, the pro-EU National Coalition party. "But my aim is that the government programme would be as close as possible to the current one", Sipila told a news conference.

Halla-aho posted a message on Facebook, saying he would have liked to continue in the coalition, but Sipila and Orpo had not agreed to his demands for tougher immigration policies.

Finland's centrist and conservative party leaders both say the populist The Finns party can not stay in the three-member government coalition after it elected an anti-EU and anti-immigration hardliner as its chairman last week.

As snap elections are very rare in the Nordic country, a break-up of the coalition would likely mean that Sipila would try to form a new coalition.

The conservatives and centrists would then probably begin talks with potential partners, notably the Christian Democrats and the Swedish People's Party, which represents Finland's Swedish-speaking minority.

"Liberal democracy and a western conception of man must be defended now".

"With the Swedish People's Party and the Christian Democrats, they could keep some of their current plans on track".

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.

He immediately called for a "more aggressive" approach to its policies on the European Union and immigration. He said he had already talked with all parliamentary parties on Monday.

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

  • Leroy Wright