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 brigade.
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 3.5%.
According to COUNTRYAAH, Helsinki is the capital of Finland which is located in Northern Europe. Alexander Stubb’s government was thus defeated. The center’s low-key leader, IT millionaire Juha Sipilä, 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 Sipilä 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 county councils.
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 Sipilä explained that his and his family’s unused housing in northern Finland would be provided for asylum seekers. Sipilä 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 Torneå 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 seekers.