Finland’s next coalition government could take a hard line in Europe as the nationalist Finns Party is expected to come to power for the first time.
In an interview with MTV television last week, Finns Party leader Timo Soini suggested that eurozone members who are unable to keep up with deeper integration may have to leave the single-currency union. Asked if he would like to see Greece leave the euro, Soini said, “That would perhaps be the clearest option, for everybody, also for the Greeks.”
Soini’s is currently in talks with Finland’s two mainstream right-wing parties to form a government. It came in second in an election last month when Juha Sipilä’s Center Party beat outgoing prime minister Alexander Stubb’s conservative National Coalition into third place. The three parties would have a fourteen-seat majority between them in the Finnish parliament.
The National Coalition previously ruled in coalition with the Social Democrats who are seen as more pro-European. Finland — one of the few countries in the euro that has maintained a pristine credit rating through the crisis — nevertheless balked at another round of financial support for Greece in 2011 and only agreed to support a second bailout when it won a collateral deal.
The Center Party and the Finns both voted down the second Greek rescue plan when they were in opposition.
Sipilä has toned down his rhetoric since winning the election, telling reporters last week, “I have my own view on how the situation should be handled but we will together see what is possible.”
The Finns Party, which is also critical of immigration, is less radical than its populist counterparts in other countries, including neighboring Sweden where the main left- and right-wing parties have teamed up to prevent the Sweden Democrats holding the government hostage.
Finnish voters have gone through three years of economic contraction and are not very sympathetic to the Greeks whose new government is demanding relief from austerity at the same time it needs a fresh bailout package.