Finnish parliament formally approves Portuguese bailout

25th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Finland's parliament formally approved the European Union's rescue package for Portugal on Wednesday, in a widely-expected move in which less than a quarter of the house vote against the bailout.

Out of 200 parliamentarians, 137 voted in favour and 49 against the motion to participate in the bailout, including guaranteeing up to a billion euros (1.4 billion dollars) in loans.

Finland was the only EU country that needed parliamentary approval of the rescue package.

Even though the bailout was hotly discussed in parliament on Tuesday, the vote was more a matter of course than a matter of debate, after the bailout was approved on May 13 by parliament's EU policy committee.

As expected, only the anti-EU True Finns Party and the Left Alliance voted against the rescue package to Portugal.

True Finns chairman Timo Soini on Tuesday blasted bailouts to Greece, Ireland and Portugal, insisting their "insolvencies will not be fixed by these rescue packages which break the EU's own rules."

When the True Finns soared in last month's elections to become Finland's third largest party and claim a fifth of parliamentary seats, many thought it might enter government and could manage to block the Portugal bailout.

However, the party's vehement oppostion to the EU left it out of the ongoing government formation talks headed by Finance Minister Jyrki Katainen, who led his National Coalition party to election victory on April 17 and is almost certain to become the next prime minister.

He is currently leading government formation talks to form a coalition of six of parliament's eight parties, with only the True Finns and outgoing Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi's Centre Party left in opposition.

The Left Alliance, meanwhile, has been invited into the government despite opposition to the bailout since it has said it will not disagree with the rest of the new government's EU policy.

© 2011 AFP

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