Finnish government resigns over failure to pass reforms

Henrietta Brewer
March 10, 2019

Under the health care and social services reform, regional governments would take over the provision of care from local municipalities.

The entire government of Finland resigned Friday after a three-party coalition failed to agree on welfare reform policy; a hot-button issue plaguing the nation as the population ages and resources dwindle.

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä has described the collapse of his government over its failed social and health care reform package, "sote", "a major disappointment".

Claims that the reforms would bring three billion euros ($3.3 billion) of savings to the country's welfare bill have also been repeatedly called into question.

Sipila, a former businessman who earned millions as an IT entrepreneur before becoming prime minister in 2015, has made health and social reform one of his top priorities in office, seeing a shake-up as necessary to cut the ballooning costs of treating a rapidly aging population.

Finland is due to hold a parliamentary election on Sunday, April 14. The coalition included his own Center Party, the National Coalition Party and the small populist Blue Reform Party, once part of the euroskeptic True Finns.

"Our government operates on a "do or die" principle. I take responsibility for the failure".

The government will hold a news conference at 0845 GMT. The government's resignation would not change the timetable for next month's elections, the justice ministry said.

But a member of the parliamentary committee on health and social affairs, Veronica Rehn-Kivi of the liberal Swedish People's Party, called it a "victory" for the welfare state and individual citizens.

During a press briefing shortly after tendering in the resignation request, Sipila said he made the decision after consultations with Parliament proved there was no chance of pushing the prioritised reforms through during the current tenure.

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