True Finns chief wants to renegotiate euro fund

The leader of the populist True Finns party, vying for a key role in the next Finnish government, has said he would demand to renegotiate a package of EU measures to tackle the euro zone crisis.

“Considering the current preliminary information… we will not accept it,” Timo Soini told Reuters in a telephone interview.

“We are not happy with socialising debts. It would again transfer more power from the national level to the European Union.”

The True Finns have been gaining popularity ahead of an April 17 general election and if they emerge as the biggest party, they could complicate European Union efforts to complete a deal to address the euro crisis.

The party has not led in any single poll but it has come second and third in some surveys and its Eurosceptical positions have clearly struck a chord with voters. The National Coalition party of Finance Minister Jyrki Katainen is ahead in the polls.

Were the True Finns to play a role in forming a government, it could make it more difficult for parliament to ratify an agreement with EU leaders on strengthening the eurozone's financial backstops.

“Our aim is to awaken Finnish people to vote for a result that means this package will have to be renegotiated,” Soini said.

The accord would raise the lending power of the existing temporary rescue fund to €440bn by increasing guarantees from member states, including Finland, and create a permanent European Stabilisation Mechanism based partly on paid-in capital from those countries.

Asked if the True Finns might stay out of government over a plan to make the euro bailout fund parmanent, Soini said: “Yes, that may be.”

Renegotiate
Opposition parties, including the True Finns, the Social Democrats and the Leftist Alliance, have objected to providing funds or guarantees to help debt-laden countries such as Greece and Ireland.

European efforts to address the crisis have run into roadblocks before due to opposition from small member states.

Last year, a new government in Slovakia delayed the launch of the European Financial Stability Facility, the eurozone's bailout fund, for several weeks before relenting under severe diplomatic pressure. It also refused to contribute to bailout for Greece.

The True Finns were second behind the National Coalition party, and ahead Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi's Centre Party, in a poll published last week. Support for the True Finns has more than quadrupled since elections in 2007.

Finance Minister Katainen, the leading candidate to head the next government, has not ruled out working with any party so long as it accepts what has been agreed on the bailout. Kiviniemi made a similar point in an interview with the Financial Times.

Soini, however, is counting on voters to change that landscape. “Finnish citizens will decide on election results and who is in the government and who is not,” he said.

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