2007-04-16

Naming names

The National Coalition Party and the Swedish People's Party have named their ministers.

Despite rumors that the Coalition's party leader Jyrki Katainen would become the Minister for Foreign Affairs, he'll be the next Minister of Finance instead. The finance portfolio is considered the second most powerful in the Cabinet, so taking it makes sense for a party leader whose gravitas has sometimes been questioned. The Minister for Foreign Affairs will instead be Ilkka Kanerva, a veteran politician from Turku. He's been an MP since the '70s and was first made a minister in the '80s. Katainen's right-hand man Jyri Häkämies becomes the Minister of Defense, thus further strengthening the Coalition's foreign policy influence within the Cabinet. Vote king and Coalition strongman Sauli Niinistö, often mentioned as a possible Minister of Foreign Affairs, will become the Speaker of the Parliament.

In a surprise move - a surprise to me, at least - Anne Holmlund will become the Minister of the Interior. Former Minister of Culture Suvi Lindén makes a return to the Cabinet as the Minister of Communication. She had to resign from the previous post because of an appearance of impropriety, but the voters forgave her, so now she's back. There will be two Coalition ministers from Helsinki, Minister of Education Sari Sarkomaa and Minister of Housing Jan Vapaavuori. Vapaavuori is about as right-wing on economic matters as any MP, so it'll be interesting to see what he does about housing. Paula Risikko, who has a doctorate in health science, will become the Minister of Health and Social Services.

The Swedish People's Party had two portfolios to divvy up. Party leader Stefan Wallin will become the Minister of Culture and as such can act as the guardian of bilingualism in cultural pursuits. Astrid Thors will become the Minister of European Affairs and Integration. Thors has already said (fi) that immigration policy will become "more active" to combat aging.

The Green League is scheduled to release their minister list later today and the Centre Party tomorrow.

4 comments:

Passer-by said...

Kanerva as a Foreign Minister. First I burst out laughing, now I'm kinda confused. Why? Why on earth? I'm not a leftist nor a Social Democrat, but I suspect I may miss Tuomioja soon. At least he was well read, civilized and intellectual.

Aapo said...

My thoughts exactly same. Ilkka Kanerva was the very reason why I wanted the Centre to snatch our foreign office. When it turned out that it'll go to the Coalition, I crossed my fingers for Katainen, Niinistö, or even Alex Stubb. And now he's there. How lovely.

Does he even speak any languages, besides Finnish and his native Turku?

Ari said...

Passer-by wrote: Kanerva as a Foreign Minister. First I burst out laughing, now I'm kinda confused. Why?

I can think of several possible reasons. 1.) Kanerva has sat on the Foreign Affairs Committee for 16 years, so he has plenty of experience in the field. 2.) Kanerva was in line to be the Speaker, having served as an Assistant Speaker for many years, so when Niinistö wanted that job (I assume that was the case), Katainen needed to find another frontline position for Kanerva. 3.) The Foreign Minister is one of the most visible Cabinet positions. Due to Kanerva's age and image problems, he's a pick who won't challenge Katainen's position as party leader.

Aapo said...

Vapaavuori is about as right-wing on economic matters as any MP, so it'll be interesting to see what he does about housing.

This position is interesting indeed. If such things as right-wing housing policies exist then what are they? Is the current policy (a strong public support for home ownership on one hand, more than 70% of the population eligible for social housing on the other) left or right?