Finland has taken an oath to form a new coalition government that is seen as the most right-wing government in the Nordic nation’s modern history.
HELSINKI — Finland, which recently became the 31st member of NATO, swore in a new coalition government on Tuesday that is considered the most right-wing in the Nordic nation’s recent history.
President Sauli Niinisto appointed the 19-member cabinet headed by Prime Minister Petteri Urbu, leader of the conservative National Coalition party, after Finnish lawmakers approved the lineup of ministers.
The two junior partners in the coalition are the Christian Democrats and the Swedish People’s Party of Finland. Because of the dominance of the two major partner parties, Urbu’s government has been described by the Finnish media as “patriotic-conservative” in nature.
The four parties hold a majority of 108 seats in the 200-member parliament. Political analysts said the new cabinet is the most right-wing government in Finland since World War II.
The Finnish economy was the central issue in the April elections. During their campaign, conservative candidates accused the center-left cabinet of former Prime Minister Sanna Marin of spending excessively, contributing to high state debt and other economic problems.
Despite Marín’s personal popularity and high international standing, voters shifted allegiances away from her Social Democratic Party and to parties on the political right. The Social Democrats finished third in the elections, behind the National Coalition Party and the Finns’ Party.
Urbu, a 53-year-old veteran politician and former finance and interior minister, has headed the National Congress Party, Finland’s main conservative party, since 2016.
Other key ministerial positions for the party include Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen and Defense Minister Antti Häkkinen, NCP vice-president.
Häkkänen’s position is particularly important since Finland joined NATO in April. The country of 5.5 million people, which shares a long border with Russia, is working to integrate its military systems and infrastructure into the alliance.
Häkkänen gave assurances that the new government would not change Finland’s attitude towards Ukraine.
“Finland’s support for Ukraine will remain very strong. There will be no change to this policy,” he told the Associated Press on the sidelines of the first press conference of the new cabinet.
The populist Finns Party, which pursues a largely nationalist and anti-immigration agenda, has secured several important ministerial posts. Party leader Rikka Pjora was appointed Minister of Finance in the new government, and other party members were appointed to lead Finland’s Ministries of Interior and Justice.
While Finland’s strategy on Ukraine may remain the same, the Europol cabinet is expected to implement major social and labor policy reforms, as well as budget cuts, over the next four years.
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