Climate change the central theme as Prime Minister Rinne sworn in

Former union chief and finance minister Antti Rinne officially becomes the head of Finland's 75th government today.

President Sauli Niinistö (L) and Prime Minister Antti Rinne (R), 6th June 2019 / Credit: Matti Porre, TPK

Finland’s incoming Prime Minister Antti Rinne (SDP) has used his first speech as PM to highlight the importance of tackling the climate change crisis for his new administration, saying “come the 2030s, we can no longer keep asking whether we should have done something earlier”.

Rinne was addressing Finnish President Sauli Niinistö on Thursday afternoon on behalf of the country’s 75th government after being sworn in; earlier, Members of Parliament voted 111 to 74 to give Rinne a mandate to govern.

“Never before in parliamentary elections have climate change solutions stimulated as much debate as they did now” Rinne told Niinistö, invoking an old Finnish proverb: “if you want to go fast, you have to go alone; but if you want to get far, you have to go together” to highlight how the country’s response to the climate change crisis would have to be a collective effort.

In a government programme unveiled on earlier this week, Rinne vowed to make Finland carbon neutral by 2035.

“A climate crisis is threatening all of humanity, and we take it very seriously. Besides doing it for our children and future generations, we are doing it because it is right and because this is the time to act” says Rinne.

Constructive government negotiations 

During his speech to President Niinistö, former union boss and finance minister Rinne said there were those who predicted it would be difficult or impossible to form a coalition government.

However, he said that the weeks-long government negotiations had been undertaken with a “spirit of cooperation” and that they’ve now “created a forward-looking Government and a programme that focuses on what lies ahead of us”, including building a country that lies on sustainable development.

Rinne also said that the new government’s economic and employment policies would be “responsible”, and that they are committed to reinforcing Finland’s competitiveness by investing in skills, education and research. “Every person’s individual wellbeing benefits all of us” Rinne added.

In reply, President Niinistö congratulated Prime Minister Rinne, but warned of the challenges ahead in government.

“You will face many expectations, you will be challenged, and you will be put under pressure” said Niinistö in his speech to the new government.

“Unity and mutual trust are vital in a broad-based government” he cautioned.

President thanks outgoing government 

In a separate meeting with Finland’s outgoing government – the National Coalition Party, Centre Party and Blue Reform party – President Niinistö thanked them for their work while in office.

“The economy and employment are at record high levels for this decade, so you certainly got things done!” he told them.

Niinistö said he will continue his tradition of meeting with party leaders and parliamentary committees where both government politicians and the opposition take part.

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