* Soini: Ecofin meeting may face "entirely new" solution
* Outgoing PM: bailout too big an issue for caretaker govt
* True Finns' Soini: caretaker govt cannot avoid its duty
(Adds comments from True Finn leader, analyst, voters)
By John Acher
HELSINKI, April 20 The head of the eurosceptic
True Finns party, confident his opposition to the terms of a
Portuguese bailout was gaining traction, said on Wednesday euro
zone members might face a new solution to the debt crisis by
"I believe that reason will return to Europe," said Timo
Soini, the charismatic leader of the party which scored big
gains in weekend elections by promising to block the looming
European bailout for Portugal.
His confidence also shows how hard it will be for the
National Coalition party, which won the most votes on Sunday, to
form a coalition with the True Finns and the opposition Social
Democrats, who finished second.
Forming alliances to secure a parliamentary majority is
crucial for National Coalition leader Jyrki Katainen -- the
likely next prime minister -- because in Finland, unlike other
euro zone countries, parliament approves requests for EU bailout
Finland headed for face-saving bailout fudge [ID:nLDE73I0I1]
True Finns seen in govt, Finland to back bailout[nLDE73J0U1]
How Finland's next coalition govt will be formed[nLDE73I13V]
While Katainen has promised to form a government that
supports the present bailout plan, long negotiations over a new
government may delay agreement on aid for Portugal, a topic
European finance ministers will tackle on May 16.
Soini told reporters attitudes to the debt crisis were
changing, with many across Europe, including in Germany, unhappy
about having to help countries that have mismanaged their
"Things seem to be changing every day," he said. "What is on
offer at the Ecofin on May 16 could be entirely different from
the current situation, or maybe we will go back to square 1."
He said the best solution to the European debt crisis would
be to require banks to recapitalise and bear more of the
liability for debts, as he had suggested during his campaign.
Disagreements over how to help Portugal mean coalition talks
are likely to be difficult and lengthyand the Finnish position
may still be undecided when finance ministers meet on May 16.
Of the three main parties likely to discuss a coalition, the
True Finns are the most critical of the EU bailout plans. Soini
said he would not set absolute conditions for joining a new
coalition, but he stuck to his opposition to the present
Portugal bailout plan.
The Social Democrats support EU policies in general, but do
not like the way the Portugal rescue plan is financed and are
demanding that private investors shoulder more liability.
Social Democrat leader Jutta Urpilainen, in an interview
with the daily Helsingin Sanomat, reaffirmed that her party
could accept the EU bailout plan with conditions.
Analysts doubted the process would be smooth.
"It is quite likely that forming the new Finnish government
will take a long time. Europe may have to decide on these
mechanisms before Finland has a new government," said Sami Borg,
director of Finnish Social Science Data Archive.
Adding to such worries, outgoing prime minister Mari
Kiviniemi said it was up to the next government to put the
Portugal bailout plan to parliament.
At the earliest, a new government will be appointed on May
19 and go through a vote of confidence on May 20 or 24, a
National Coalition official said.
COMPROMISES AND DISCONTENT
Analysts say Katainen's solution will likely be a mix of
compromises and face-saving measures, such as offering cosmetic
concessions on European finance and handing some key cabinet
jobs to the True Finns in exchange for letting the Portugal vote
pass in parliament.
Some say the new government is likely to take a slightly
tougher stance against Brussels to heed voter discontent.
The True Finns' tough line against bailouts has resonated
among many voters who feel their famously high taxes are helping
to bail out irresponsible governments, while they struggle with
In Helsinki, voters' views were mixed, some saying the
outgoing government was out of touch with the concerns of
ordinary citizens and some worried that Finland was leaving its
pro-Europe, internationalist course.
"It is a difficult question," said Veikko Haajanen, a
pensioner who voted for the Social Democrats, when asked about
Portugal aid. "If we don't help, how will it affect the euro,
and what kind of backlash will it have on Finland?"
Officials from the European Commission, the European Central
Bank and the International Monetary Fund are discussing terms of
an assistance programme with Portugal's caretaker government.
Under the existing rules, funding for the expected 80
billion euro package would come roughly one-third from the IMF
and two-thirds from the EFSF and a smaller fund managed by the
Finland is one of only six AAA-rated sovereign states in the
17-nation euro zone and its participation in EFSF is considered
politically vital and financially awkward to replace.
(Additional reporting by Terhi Kinnunen; Writing by Ritsuko
Ando; editing by Tim Pearce)