Antti Rinne sworn in as Finland’s PM

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Finland’s new cabinet ministers posed for their ‘class picture’ at the House of Estates on Thursday evening. (Pekka Tynell/Yle)
SDP chair Antti Rinne, 56, was sworn in as Finland’s 75th prime minister on Thursday afternoon. Rinne, whose Social Democratic Party narrowly won April’s election, is a former finance minister and union boss.

He was approved as the new premier by a vote of 111 to 74 in a Parliamentary session that began around noon, with Rinne serving as interim Speaker of Parliament. Fourteen of the new MPs were absent.

All the ‘no’ votes came from the three main opposition parties, with the sole MP from the Liike Nyt (Movement Now) group voting with the five government parties.

After the vote, Rinne and the 18 other cabinet ministers visited President Sauli Niinistö.

At 2pm, the president approved the resignation of outgoing PM and Centre Party chair Juha Sipilä and then formally appointed Rinne as the new prime minister. The new ministers were then sworn in immediately, using either Finnish or Swedish and either a Bible or law book, according to their own preferences.

President of Finland, Sauli Niinisto (L) and the Speaker of Parliament and government leader, Antti Rinne meet for government formation talks at the President’s official residence Mantyniemi in Helsinki, Finland June 6, 2019. Social Democratic Party leader Antti Rinne was sworn in as Finland’s prime minister on Thursday. (Jussi Nukari/Lehtikuva/via Reuters)

Earlier on Thursday, Rinne met with Niinistö and was formally appointed to form a new government.

On Friday MPs will elect the new Speaker of Parliament and two deputy speakers. The new Speaker is expected to be former Centre PM Matti Vanhanen, 63. Former minister Tuula Haatainen of the SDP is to continue as the first deputy speaker while Juho Eerola of the Finns Party will likely become the second deputy speaker.

Comfortable majority in Parliament

Rinne aims to lead a five-party centre-left coalition government for the next four years. Besides the SDP and Centre, it includes the Greens, the Left Alliance and the Swedish People’s Party.

The cabinet parties have a comfortable 117-seat majority in the 200-seat Parliament.

However they will likely face pressures from within as well as from the two main opposition parties, the right-leaning Finns Party and National Coalition Party. They each have nearly as many MPs as the SDP, wit the top three parties holding 40, 39 and 38 seats respectively. The nationalist Finns Party, led by immigration hardliner Jussi Hallo-aho, is just one seat shy of being the largest and has been leading opinion polls since the election.

One holdover from Sipilä cabinet

About 58 percent of the ministers in Rinne’s cabinet are women. That is up sharply from the previous Sipilä government, but still short of the 60 percent ratio in Vanhanen’s 2007-10 cabinet.

Cabinet ministers walked to the House of the Estates on Helsinki’s warmest day of the year so far. (PEkka Tynell/Yle)

The new ministers range in age from 31 to 61. The youngest is Minister of Economic Affairs Katri Kulmuni, a second-term MP and deputy Centre Party chair from Tornio in Finnish Lapland, while the eldest is Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, an MP, Greens chair and former minister from Helsinki.

The only minister to carry over from Sipilä’s cabinet to Rinne’s is Centre Party MP Annika Saarikko. She moves from being Minister of Family Affairs and Social Service to Minister of Science and Culture, a newly-renamed post that operates under the Ministry of Education.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the Speakers’ election was held earlier today. The Speakers’ election will be held Friday. This story has been updated.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canada’s opposition leader lays out foreign policy priorities, Radio Canada International

Finland: Green Party leader named Finland’s Foreign Minister, Yle News

Russia: Moscow’s new energy doctrine warns against green shift, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Swedish PM Stefan Löfven unveils new cabinet, Radio Sweden

United States: Agency supporting Alaska’s rural development has new leader, Alaska Public Media

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