Finland. At the beginning of the year, Finland and Sweden
declared that defense cooperation should be extended to war.
Among other things, it was proposed to use each other's air
bases and naval bases, joint naval units and joint army
The coalition government suffered from internal wear and
tear. Prime Minister Alexander Stubb's Socialist Party and
the Social Democrats went back in public opinion before the
parliamentary elections in April. Instead, the opposition
went ahead, especially the Center. The electoral movement
was mainly about the economy and defense in the shadow of
the crisis between the EU and Finland's large neighbor the
Russian Federation. The sanctions war between the EU and the
Russian Federation greatly reduced Finland's exports to the
east, and the Russian Federation's involvement in Ukraine
challenged Finland's security policy. Defense Minister Carl
Haglund from the Swedish People's Party advocated NATO
membership, while several parties wanted to investigate the
issue. A pre-election poll showed that 28% of Finns said yes
to NATO while 40% said no.
The center, skeptical of NATO membership, became the
major winner of the election. The party grew by one third to
21.1%. Other major parties declined, the Collective Party to
18.2%, the True Finns to 17.7% and the Social Democrats to
16.5%. The Greens rose to 8.5%, the Left League gained 7.1%,
the Swedish People's Party 4.9% and the Christian Democrats
COUNTRYAAH, Alexander Stubb's government was thus defeated. The
center's low-key leader, IT millionaire Juha Sipilš, 53, who
lacked ministerial experience, was named new prime minister
for a coalition with the host Conservative Center, populist
True Finns and Conservative Socialist Party. Together, they
had 124 of Parliament's 200 seats. The true Finns' skeptical
EU leader Timo Soini became Foreign Minister and Alexander
Stubb Finance Minister.
After three years of recession, the economy was the new
coalition's major challenge. Finland risked violating EU
budget deficit and government debt rules. The government
immediately announced savings in social and health care,
school and child care. NATO membership was open to.
Gradually, savings in labor costs were presented, such as
shorter holidays and lower compensation for overtime for
government employees. This led to protests, and in September
about 30,000 people demonstrated in Helsinki. A protest
strike affected trains, buses, flights and postal services.
The government's next saving measure was a healthcare and
social insurance reform that would reduce growing healthcare
costs. There, the coalition parties had a hard time
agreeing, and in November Sipilš threatened to resign. This
took effect and the parties agreed on a health care reform,
where responsibility for health and social care goes from
municipalities to health care areas similar to Swedish
During the fall, it was clear that the country's economy
was declining for the fourth year in a row. GDP had then
reached the 2008 level. Economic development was the worst
in the EU.
In the autumn, a significantly increased number of asylum
seekers came to Finland, especially Iraqis whose asylum
reasons were considered more generous than in Sweden, which
most traveled through. A hot debate on immigration caught
on. A true Finnish parliamentary man warned that Europe was
becoming Islamized, while thousands of people demonstrated
in Helsinki for multicultural society. Prime Minister Sipilš
explained that his and his family's unused housing in
northern Finland would be provided for asylum seekers.
Sipilš urged the Finns to follow his example. Lahti's newly
arrived asylum seekers were attacked when locals threw
fireworks at the bus they were traveling in. One of the
attackers was wearing the Ku Klux Klan cover.
In TorneŚ at the border with Swedish Haparanda, in
October a protest was held to stop the increasing number of
asylum seekers across the border, at most 800 in one day.
A total of about 35,000 asylum seekers were expected
during the year. In October, asylum requirements were
tightened for Iraqis, which made up two-thirds of all asylum