Centre Party leader Juha Sipila, a 53-year-old IT millionaire and newcomer to politics, is set to become Finland’s next prime minister. He has promised to inject new life into the $220 billion economy by creating 200,000 private-sector jobs over the next decade and promoting business-friendly policies including more predictable tax laws. After three years of recession, the next government will need to repair the damage done by lost trade with Russia and the demise of a consumer electronics industry once led by Nokia Oyj. The decline of the paper industry has also wiped out thousands of jobs, leaving unemployment above 10 percent as economic growth hobbles along at half the euro-zone average.
It’s a 10-year project to fix the economy, get the economy competitive again. Balancing public finances is a second priority.
Sipila's first task will be to pick his coalition partners. Tradition dictates that the largest party takes the post of prime minister and forms a government with the other largest parties to obtain a majority in parliament. The two pillars of its economy, the forestry sector and technology industry led by one-time giant Nokia, have shrunk dramatically, while two of Finland’s biggest trading partners, Russia and the eurozone, are slogging through their own economic worries. Unemployment is at its highest level since 2003, at 9.2 percent.