Saturday 24 August 2019

Women ministers in the ascendancy as Finland’s new government sworn in

Eleven of the 19-member cabinet are women.

Ministers of the new Finnish government (Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtikuva via AP)
Ministers of the new Finnish government (Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtikuva via AP)

By Jari Tanner, Associated Press

Finland’s new centre-left coalition government has been sworn in, with the country’s first Social Democratic prime minister in 16 years assuming office along with a cabinet where women are in the majority.

The 19-member cabinet of prime minister Antti Rinne was approved on Thursday in the 200-seat Eduskunta legislature, after which President Sauli Niinisto appointed it.

Eleven of the Cabinet members are women, reflecting Nordic gender equality in the nation’s politics.

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Ministers of the new Finnish government (Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtikuva via AP)

With the Social Democrats in power in Sweden since 2014, and social democratic parties in Finland and Denmark scoring general election wins in the past few months, the political tide has turned to the left in the Nordic countries — overcoming strong populist movements in each nation.

Mr Rinne’s Social Democratic Party, the Centre Party, the Greens, the Left Alliance and the Swedish People’s Party of Finland clinched a coalition deal on Monday after weeks of intensive talks.

The five parties muster a comfortable 117 seats in the parliament.

Their 182-page government program pledges to make the nation of 5.5 million “a sustainable society socially, economically and ecologically” with strong emphasis on environmental and climate change issues.

“We (the government) are determined to tackle the challenge of climate change. But it needs to be done in a socially fair way,” Mr Rinne told reporters at the cabinet’s first news conference.

The best election result ever by the Greens — which increased its lawmakers by five seats to 20 and has gradually evolved to be a mainstream political operator instead of a niche player — gave environmentalists a strong say in government formation talks and the cabinet’s polices.

The party, whose key supporter base is young, educated women in big cities, received three key cabinet portfolios — the posts of foreign minister, interior minister and environment and climate affairs minister.

“This is a great day for the Greens in Finland and the green movement worldwide. Finland now has a situation where sustainable development and tackling climate change are the basis of the government program,” said foreign minister Pekka Haavisto, the party’s chairman.

PA Media

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