Finland's nationalist True Finns reject Portuguese bailout

2nd May 2011, Comments 0 comments

The nationalist True Finns which became Finland's third biggest party in April elections said Monday it would not vote in favour of an EU bailout for Portugal were it to join the new Finnish government.

The anti-EU party also said it would oppose steps to increase Finland's loan guarantees for the European Union's temporary bailout fund as well as its contribution to a permanent financial stability mechanism.

"Unfortunately we do not believe that the measures taken to this point have been sustainable and just," the party said in a statement explaining its position on building a new government coalition for Finland.

The statement, a copy of which was obtained by public broadcaster YLE, was a response to questions posed by conservative leader Jyrki Katainen, whose National Coalition Part got the most votes in the April 17 parliamentary poll.

Katainen, likely to be Finland's next prime minister, had quizzed all parliamentary parties on major policy issues as he launched government formation talks last week.

Any party wishing to negotiate a place in the coalition had to provide written answers by mid-day on Monday.

"Are you prepared to approve following through with commitments Finland has already made to secure stability, economic growth and employment of both the eurozone and Finland?" Katainen had asked, according to official documents made public last Thursday.

Katainen is under pressure to include the nationalist True Finns in government, as the party's surge to 19 percent of the national total from 4.1 percent in 2007 is seen as a strong mandate from the electorate.

Brussels is waiting to see whether Finland will back or veto EU help for debt-ridden EU states.

A team of European Union and International Monetary Fund officials are in Lisbon negotiating the terms of a bailout expected to total nearly 80 billion euros ($120 billion) for Portugal, which has to roll over billions in maturing debt this year and still has a persistent budget deficit.

The debt rescue talks are scheduled to end by mid-May, before an early general election here on June 5 prompted by the right-wing opposition's refusal to approve cutbacks proposed by the outgoing Socialist government.

© 2011 AFP

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