Prime Minister Juha Sipilä
The new Government visits the President of the Republic on 29 May 2015
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The relative strengths of the parliamentary groups changed considerably in the elections held in April. The Centre Party became the largest group in Parliament and the ensuing government formation talks began under the party's leadership. This way, the direction of the Government's composition was dictated by the election result, as is the established practice in Finland.
As the negotiations began, it became clear that the alternative of having both of the previous Government's biggest parties to take part in the new Government was not an option. In the end, the negotiations were based on cooperation between the three biggest parliamentary groups. It means that the new Government has a strong authorisation from the Finnish voters.
The resulting Government composition is historic as this is the first time that the Finns Party makes part of the Government.
Among the three parties, we could fairly quickly find agreement on what Finland now needs.
The spirit of the government formation talks can be summarised by the words inscribed in the pedestal of President J.K. Paasikivi's statue in Helsinki: "The acknowledging of facts is the beginning of all wisdom." We based the Government Programme on the economic facts instead of our own wishes. Earlier, all parties have been guilty of building government programmes on wishes rather than on facts.
Finland has drifted into a spiral of contraction. Unemployment is high and economic growth has waned. Exports are flagging because our competitiveness has deteriorated and is 10-15 per cent weaker than that of our key competitor countries. Due to excessive regulation and administration, Finland has lost its agility.
The government formation process can be compared to the process of building a bridge. We wanted to build a bridge that will enable us to overcome the forthcoming difficulties as a nation that has retained its wholeness. Our objective is that in 2025, Finland is a regenerating, caring and safe country where everyone can feel important and where the society is based on trust.
First we carried out thorough background work by creating a shared understanding of the situation. Thereafter we made decisions on the economic pillars on which to build the programme. Those pillars had to be dug deep to make the bridge solid. For that reason, we decided on a total of four-billion-euro savings to the public finances during the government term. In addition, we agreed on significant structural reforms to bridge the ten-billion-euro sustainability gap. We will implement the pension reform and the reform of social welfare and health care services. We will also reform practices and responsibilities of municipalities. We will dismantle unnecessary regulation and cut red tape. We will encourage working and entrepreneurship.
We will not, however, be able to do all this alone. The Government invites all interest groups and citizens to take part in a social contract to fix Finland's competitiveness. By doing so, we could avoid the most painful cuts and return to the growth path with reduced taxes.
We must also acknowledge the fact that the agreed savings will be painful for a number of population groups, although we tried to reach the fairest solution possible. It is also true that the cuts will not be equally painful for those in secure employment. Therefore, I urge all of us who are better off to participate in the common effort by showing a sense of moderation and putting in a bit more to promote our common welfare.
We also acknowledge facts with regard to foreign and security policy - the very object of J.K. Paasikivi's earlier cited words. The security situation in Europe and the Baltic Sea region has deteriorated, particularly as a result of the Ukraine crisis. We will address this development by pursuing an active foreign policy, strengthening the national defence capability and internal security, and deepening international security and defence policy cooperation. The EU is an important security community for Finland.
In accordance with the Constitution, Finland’s foreign policy is directed by the President of the Republic, in cooperation with the Government. In the current international situation, it is increasingly important that this cooperation works seamlessly. The new Government is committed to this. We are also committed to efforts to strengthen national consensus on the fundamentals of Finland's foreign and security policy.
On behalf of the new Government, I would like to express my warmest thanks for your kind words and promise of future support. Please accept the Government's greeting and assurances of high consideration.