The Prime Minister of Finland, Antti Rinne, on Tuesday presented his resignation to the President of the Republic in order to prevent the fall of the Government. Rinne, leader of the Finnish Social Democratic Party (SDP) and a former trade unionist, was heading a five-party coalition Government since the elections held in April.
The Prime Minister's resignation came one day after their main Government partners, the Center Party (Keskusta) announced after a meeting that they had withdrawn their trust in the head of the Government. In fact, it was Rinne's Minister of Economic Affairs and the leader of Keskusta, Katri Kulmuni, who expressed on Monday their refusal to continue supporting the Prime Minister.
Rinne's premature departure is due to the alleged inaccurate information he would have provided about the 17-day strike of the Postal Service (Posti) workers, which ended last Wednesday. His government partners accused him and other ministers of misleading Parliament by saying they did not know in advance the new contractual arrangements for the affected workers.
The case already claimed a first victim last Friday: the Minister of Local Government and Ownership Steering, Sirpa Paatero (SDP), who has resigned and is currently on sick leave. According to the Chairman of Posti Board Markku Pohjola, Paatero also knew what was happening.
Former PM Antti Rinne, at a press conference after resigning. Photo: Kosti Keistinen/Finnish Government.
Sipilä behind the scene?
Some Finnish media such as the newspaper Iltalehti speculated on the possibility that the fall of Rinne is an orchestrated operation, among others, by the former prime minister, Juha Sipilä.
After the April elections, the Social Democrats demanded that Sipilä be replaced as the leader of Keskusta as a condition for forming the coalition government.
The Minister of Transport and Communications, also Social Democrat Sanna Marin, has returned prematurely from Brussels, where she was attending the European Transport and Telecommunications Council, due to the government crisis. Upon arrival, she told reporters at the airport that she is ready to replace Rinne, if the party agrees.
According to Iltalehti, Marin is one of the people who would be interested in applying for the post of prime minister, along with Antti Lindtman (chairman of the Social Democratic Parliamentary Group) and Ville Skinnari (Minister of Development and Trade). However, Skinnari has already said on Twitter that he supports Sanna Marin for the post of head of the Government.
Pääministerin jätettyä valtioneuvoston eronpyynnön palaan Washingtonista nopeutetulla aikataululla Suomeen keskiviikkona iltapäivällä. Tuen @MarinSanna valintaa seuraavaksi pääministeriksi. Olemme toimineet tiiminä vaativissa tilanteissa aiemminkin.— Ville Skinnari (@VilleSkinnari) December 3, 2019
Leaders of the other coalition parties have expressed on Twitter their willingness to maintain the cooperation agreement and the government program when Rinne is replaced:
Pääministeri @AnttiRinnepj ja SDP tekivät varmasti vaikean, mutta Suomen kannalta oikean ratkaisun. Arvostamme sitä.— Katri Kulmuni (@KatriKulmuni) December 3, 2019
Ratkaisu antaa mahdollisuuden jatkaa viiden puolueen yhdessä sopiman hallitusohjelman toteuttamista. #politiikka #hallitus 1/2
Uuden pääministerin nimi on SDP:n käsissä. Hallituksessa ollaan tärkeiden asioiden takia. Nyt on tärkeää päästä jatkamaan työtä ilmastonmuutoksen torjumiseksi, koulutuksen vahvistamiseksi ja eriarvoisuuden vähentämiseksi.— Maria Ohisalo (@MariaOhisalo) December 3, 2019
Pääministeri Rinne on eroamassa. Vasemmistoliitto haluaa jatkaa hallitusyhteistyötä nykyisten kumppaneiden kanssa ja nykyisellä ohjelmalla. Suomalaiset äänestivät tasa-arvon puolesta, eriarvoisuutta vastaan. Sille työlle on edelleen suuri tarve. https://t.co/iJ30CnCabH— Li Andersson (@liandersson) December 3, 2019