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What I meant with the rise of the True Finns, was that before 2011 Finnish cabinet formation was rather predictable, with the largest of the big three taking the lead and negotiating an agreement with the one of the other two that was less perceived as the loser. And then add the Swedish People's party, and more minor parties as needed for a stable majority. I am sure this is a simplified model, but was rather accurate until 2011.
But nevermind that, how do you see cabinet formation unfolding? If the Coalition party is aiming for opposition, who do the Social Democrats form coalition with? The decimated Centre? The True Finns? Or a minority coalition?
You're right about the predictable "old way", as it has been described multiple times by political commentators lately: three big parties, two in government, one in opposition. In this decade both True Finns and Greens have pushed into that "big parties" group, although the Greens still do better in local elections than national.
Mainly because of this everybody was saying in election night that it will be very difficult to form a government, and it will take time, skill and perseverance. References to Sweden's latest process were abundant.
The morning after elections True Finns were making a lot of conciliatory and compromising noises. Then Social Democrats slipped that they had been in contact with some other parties since autumn about possible new government. True Finns immediately figured out that they were not one of those parties, and were infuriated.
Meanwhile the Center party made a big show of "the people" making clear they should be in the opposition, but then Jyrki Sipilä resigned his chairmanship. He was the biggest hurdle for the Center party to come to the new government, so all those "to the opposition" voices faded away immediately. In media people in the Center parties strongest support areas said that they voted for True Finns or Left Coalition since they didn't want their vote to go to Sipilä "or that Berner", Sipilä's privatization-grazed minister of traffic and telecommunications. Berner, though, wasn't a candidate since she's leaving politics to be a board member of SEB, one of the biggest banks in Sweden.
The base and most of the members in the Center party wanted to rule with Social Democrats already in 2015, but the party leadership obviously wasn't listening. I guess now they might be.
The Greens and Left Coalition have not said anything certain, but they do have an air around them of being the parties the Social Democrats have been in contact for a half a year. Their propositions for the policy of the new government don't sound like a starting point for negotiations, but more like statements of reached consensus.
The Coalition party has been more difficult to figure out. They do act almost like they won in the election, although they avoided defeat mainly because Center party did so poorly. They did loose votes, but gained a seat because Center party lost so many that even other losers got some of the spoils. Coalition party was talking about being able to cooperate with any other party. Which raised some eyebrows, because during the True Finns-Blue Future split they said that True Finns had "incompatible values". Apparently those values are now compatible.
Anyway, after Sipilä resigned and Center party came back to the game, Coalition party's stance has hardened. Their play seems to be opening the distance to have ground to give up in the negotiations while pretending to their base that the voters did not reject their (failed) policies.
Everybody seems to be betting that True Finns will be opposition. Not least because the leader of the Social Democrats has repeated many times that he sees no common ground for the two parties. Neither Center party or Coalition party really wants to be in opposition with True Finns, which would be the biggest opposition party and with a right-wing populist agenda. Center party probably abhors that situation more than Coalition party.
So, my hunch at the moment is that there's already been a pre-election preparations for "reddish green" core for the coming government, and the negotiations are more about getting Center party on board than anything else. Last time Social Democrats were in government with Coalition party, they suffered the same fate Center party suffered this election. After finally making it back they may not have appetite for a renewal.
For Finland SD with Center party governments used to be the norm, mockingly known as "red earth" (punamulta/rödmylla) government. They also likely would prefer to have Swedish National Party in government too, just to be sure. This combination is colloquially know as "national front" government. There might even be space left for Christian Democrats, so they wouldn't have to be in opposition with the right wing parties.
The Social Democrats have already named their negotiators, and will send a questionnaire to other parties right after Easter. They expect replies by the end of the month, and after reviewing the answer will announce the parties selected for negotiations. They plan to make it fast, so that the new government can start at the beginning of June. In July Finland will take the Presidency of the EU Council, so they want the ministers to be ready for that in time.
The published schedule is tight, which gives substance to the idea that there already is an agreement between left parties and Greens.
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