HELSINKI – Finance minister’s resignation re-shuffles political cards

The shock resignation on Friday (5 June) of Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Katri Kulmuni, has cast a shadow not only over the direction of the Centre Party which she chairs but also over the future of Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s five-party government.

Kulmuni announced her resignation after it was revealed that she had received media training from a consultancy firm costing €50,000. However, the invoices for the training were sent to two ministries, not to her party.

Her swift resignation was applauded by politicians from all parties, who saw it as inevitable but principled. Yet, while some analysts consider the political rulebook to be harsher on female politicians, her resignation is more than meets the eye.

In the parliamentary elections of 2019, the Centre Party experienced a crushing defeat and lost 18 seats and 7.3% of its support. With 13.8%, the party became only the fifth-largest party in parliament.

Although the party was destined to land in opposition, it was eventually lured to balance the leftist government with the finance minister’s post and regional policy promises. And Kulmuni, initially against joining the government, was chosen to chair the party in the hope of bringing back lost voters.

However, a year later, the Centre Party’s support has fallen to 10.7%, and the party, with its reputation of tight economic policy, seems to have been ignored in government by the Social Democrats and the Left Alliance.

Next to rising star Prime Minister Sanna Marin, Kulmuni has appeared weak and questions regarding the party staying in government and Kulmuni’s suitability are growing inside the Centre Party.

To everyone’s surprise, Kulmuni informed that she has no intention of stepping down as the Centre Party leader which could prompt a challenge ahead of the party convention in September.

On Monday (8 June), the party will choose the new Finance Minister, just before the government is presenting a supplementary budget to Parliament and the country is supposed to form an opinion on the €750 billion recovery plan. (Pekka Vänttinen | EURACTIV.com)

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