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Why Finland's election matters to Greece

Monday, April 20, 2015 - 02:23

A millionaire former telecoms executive has won Finland's parliamentary election. But is the technocrat capable of rescuing Finland from an economic slump? Sonia Legg looks at what the election means for Europe and in particular Greece.

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He built his own house and a gas car - now Juha Sipila must construct a government and revive Finland's economy. The millionaire telecoms executive plans to run the country like a business, implementing wage freezes and spending cuts. He wants to regain Finland's competitiveness after three years in the doldrums. But with only a quarter of the 200-seats in parliament Sipila must first form a coalition. That's likely to be with the Finns which came second. It's another of Europe's rising eurosceptic parties and it's against a new bailout for Greece. BGC's Mike Ingram says that could be a problem for Athens and other EU countries with elections this year. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MIKE INGRAM, MARKET ANALYST, BGC, SAYING: "I think it's further evidence of the political fragmentation and a loss of control by the political establishment and Brussels and certainly Spain is going to look very warily at these results." Voters were more concerned about their own economy which like the country's flagship firm Nokia has been shrinking. Finland has been in recession for three years. And last year Standard and Poor's cut its credit rating to AA+, citing growth problems and political indecisiveness. (SOUNDBITE)( English) VOTER, ERIKA JAASKELAINEN, SAYING: "There's not that much wrong here, we just need to make better decisions." (SOUNDBITE)(Finnish) VOTER, HELI WAHREN, SAYING: "I don't have any big worries. but having too much state debt is a bit of a concern and needs to be sorted out." Many voters felt the previous administration didn't do enough to tackle Finland's problems - a fact acknowledged by the now former Prime Minister Alex Stubb as he cast his vote. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FINNISH PRIME MINISTER, ALEXANDER STUBB, SAYING: "I think there are really two things that we need to do. Number one is to readjust the economy. We did basically adjustments of seven billion euros in the mandate of the last government. That's more than any Finnish government in the history of Finland actually and I think we're going to need to do another six billion over the next few years." The likely new prime minister has suitable credentials - he's a respected businessman in telecommunications and startups. But he has a huge task ahead. The Finnish economy has been hit by weak private consumption and turbulence next door. It shares an 800 mile border with Russia and it's a major trading partner. Greece in contrast may seem a long way away. And Sipila too is known to be wary of new EU bailouts for Athens - in opposition he voted against one.

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Why Finland's election matters to Greece

Monday, April 20, 2015 - 02:23