Finland. At the turn of the year, Finland was the only
Nordic country to enter the Economic and Monetary Union
(EMU). Among the eleven countries that shaped the euro area,
Finland was among those who best met the participation
requirements. But even though the Finnish currency was now
strong after many crisis years, unemployment was still high.
Despite some decline in 1998, it was estimated at 10% during
the year. Growth slowed slightly, but was nevertheless
estimated to be 3.8%.
In the campaign ahead of the parliamentary elections on
March 21, the government was accused by opposition leader
Esko Aho, Center Party, of going too far in privatization
tendencies. Aho said that there was no counterbalance to
market forces, that the cuts created increased social and
regional injustices. The Center Party went from 44 to 48
seats in the election, while Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen
and the Finnish Social Democratic Party lost 12 seats and
stayed at 51. A fierce battle during an exciting election
night ended with the Social Democrats being half a
percentage point larger than the Center Party, 22.9 against
22.4%. As a result, Lipponen's condition was met that his
party would have to be the biggest if he were to re-form
For the first time in Finland's history, therefore, the
same party constellation remained seated after an election.
Countryaah official website, Lipponen continued with its rainbow coalition consisting of
five parties from right to left. The Social Democrats'
largest coalition partner was the National Assembly Party,
which in the elections went from 39 to 46 seats. The Popular
Party's popular leader, Finance Minister Sauli Niinistö,
received by far the most votes. The Left League lost two
seats to 20 and the Swedish People's Party retained its 11
seats, while the Green League went ahead with two seats to
10. The turnout was record low, 65%.
In the June European elections, only 31% of Finns voted.
The Assembly Party and the Center Party became the largest
with each having their 4 seats. The Social Democrats made a
bad choice, ended up just under 18%, lost a mandate and
stayed at 3%.
But despite the low voter interest, Finland had gained a
reputation as a reliable EU member. During the spring war in
Kosovo, internationally experienced President Martti
Ahtisaari was appointed EU mediator. He quickly achieved
results and got Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević to
agree to NATO's demands for a bomb stop.
It was therefore with international prestige that Finland
took over the EU Presidency on July 1 for six months. The
reconstruction of Kosovo, the enlargement of the EU and the
development of the "Northern Dimension" were Finnish
priorities. Through the northern dimension, Finland wanted,
among other things, creating greater understanding in the EU
of the security and economic importance of integrating the
Russian Federation into regional cooperation.
During the autumn, Finland hosted a number of prominent
ministerial meetings, including in October on EU asylum
rules and on police cooperation against international crime.
Finland's presidency culminated with the meeting of EU heads
of state and government in Helsinki in December.
The campaign for the presidential elections in January
2000 discussed, among other things. the sensitive issue of
possible Finnish membership in NATO. Opinion surveys did not
show a majority for NATO membership, but 58% said that
Finland will join NATO.
The March 2007 parliamentary elections were won by the
Center Party with 23.1% of the vote. The National Coalition
got 22.3% and Social Democracy 21.4%.
Finland was relatively hard hit by the global economic
crisis. In 2009, GDP fell by 7.8%.
Prime Minister Vanhanen resigned in June 2010 and was
replaced by his party mate, Mari Kiviniemi.
In April 2011, parliamentary elections were held. The
election was a staggering defeat for the Center Party, which
lost 16 seats and gained 35, but the National Coalition
Party and Social Democracy also declined. The great victor
was the Sand Finns, who went 34 seats up to 39. The party
went for election on a nationalist program that put long
distance between the EU and its crisis programs. The
National Coalition Party became the country's largest for
the first time, but the formation of the government took 2
months as the parties wanted to avoid the Sand Finns. In
June, the Coalition Party's Jyrki Katainen could take over
as prime minister for a government consisting of his own
party, the Social Democracy, the Left Alliance, the Greens,
the Swedish People's Party and the Christian Democrats.
From the beginning, Katainen was a major supporter of the
EU and the EU's rescue of the failed EU countries. However,
he was opposed to the EU financial tax proposal, which was
considered in November 2012. Although other parties in his
coalition government were in favor of the proposal, his
opposition was so strong that he threatened to blow up the
government and print new elections unless the whole
government backed him up.
The government did not support the reduction of CO 2
emissions. In 2005, Katainen helped formulate a plan for
increased energy consumption by 2020. Primary energy
consumption was to increase by 13% and total electricity
consumption was to increase by 15.4% during the period.
In January-February 2012, presidential elections were
held. Sauli Niinistö of the Coalition Party won the first
round of elections by 37.0% against the Green League's Pekka
Haavisto who got 18.8%. In the second election, Niinistö got
62.6%. The long tradition of social democratic governments
was thus broken.
In November 2012, the Ombudsman initiated an
investigation into Finland's role in the United States
Rendition Program, which involved torture at centers around
the world and the transport of prisoners between them. The
study report was released in April 2014. There was no
tangible evidence of Finland's participation in the torture
As in many other countries, police often use excessive
physical force. In May 2012, a 30-year-old man died at a
police station after police used a stun gun against him. In
August, a stun gun was used against a 14-year-old boy who
got his arm leather. An investigation into the assault was