President Niinistö opened the 2015 session Parliament: Finland needs positive will to change

Picture: Hanne Salonen / Eduskunta

President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö and Speaker of the Parliament Juha Sipilä (center) shake hands. Picture: Hanne Salonen / Eduskunta

Members of the new Parliament and the forthcoming Government have a difficult task ahead  of them, President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö said at the opening of the 2015 session of Parliament on 29 April.

”No one in this building can be unaware of the situation in which Finland finds itself. Our economy has shrunk, the needle has swung towards critical on the public debt and deficit indicator, the state has large guarantee commitments and the national unemployment insurance fund has a considerable borrowing requirement. Together, these combine to form a challenge which we cannot meet without a new, firmer grasp of matters and positive will to change.”

Finland is still competitive and does well according to many indicators, the President emphasised. “Now is the time to live up to our billing – it is up to us. We know what we need to do, so let’s do it. If you feel that you need a supporting hand with this, I would like to volunteer, or, to paraphrase Antti Rokka: I’m the man for the job!”

We cannot afford a culture based on a feeling of superiority

In the beginning of the speech, President Niinistö congratulated all members of the Parliament on their election. ” I am glad to see that the number of young members has again risen compared to the last few parliaments.”

Finland has room for a variety of lifestyles and personal situations, many cultures also, the President said. ”On the other hand, we are not ready to accommodate everything: we cannot afford a culture based on selfishness or a feeling of superiority.”

According to President Niinistö, changes to the Government programme are not necessarily dangerous signs of political turbulence or weakness.

”[W]e can only say for sure that, during a parliamentary term, circumstances change in ways that we cannot predict”, he said. ”This brings us to a question: should we not view it as natural that the Government will present Parliament with a new programme if the underlying assumptions of the previous one have changed and a new direction needs to be taken? Should we not, therefore, break the taboo of the unalterable Government programme? Facing up to reality is a sign of strength, not of weakness.”

Picture: Hanne Salonen / Eduskunta

Picture: Hanne Salonen / Eduskunta