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Finland

Yearbook 1999

Finland. At the turn of the year, Finland was the only Nordic country to enter the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). Among the eleven countries that shaped the euro area, Finland was among those who best met the participation requirements. But even though the Finnish currency was now strong after many crisis years, unemployment was still high. Despite some decline in 1998, it was estimated at 10% during the year. Growth slowed slightly, but was nevertheless estimated to be 3.8%.

1999 FinlandIn the campaign ahead of the parliamentary elections on March 21, the government was accused by opposition leader Esko Aho, Center Party, of going too far in privatization tendencies. Aho said that there was no counterbalance to market forces, that the cuts created increased social and regional injustices. The Center Party went from 44 to 48 seats in the election, while Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen and the Finnish Social Democratic Party lost 12 seats and stayed at 51. A fierce battle during an exciting election night ended with the Social Democrats being half a percentage point larger than the Center Party, 22.9 against 22.4%. As a result, Lipponen's condition was met that his party would have to be the biggest if he were to re-form government.

1999 Finland

For the first time in Finland's history, therefore, the same party constellation remained seated after an election. According to Countryaah official website, Lipponen continued with its rainbow coalition consisting of five parties from right to left. The Social Democrats' largest coalition partner was the National Assembly Party, which in the elections went from 39 to 46 seats. The Popular Party's popular leader, Finance Minister Sauli Niinistö, received by far the most votes. The Left League lost two seats to 20 and the Swedish People's Party retained its 11 seats, while the Green League went ahead with two seats to 10. The turnout was record low, 65%.

In the June European elections, only 31% of Finns voted. The Assembly Party and the Center Party became the largest with each having their 4 seats. The Social Democrats made a bad choice, ended up just under 18%, lost a mandate and stayed at 3%.

But despite the low voter interest, Finland had gained a reputation as a reliable EU member. During the spring war in Kosovo, internationally experienced President Martti Ahtisaari was appointed EU mediator. He quickly achieved results and got Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević to agree to NATO's demands for a bomb stop.

It was therefore with international prestige that Finland took over the EU Presidency on July 1 for six months. The reconstruction of Kosovo, the enlargement of the EU and the development of the "Northern Dimension" were Finnish priorities. Through the northern dimension, Finland wanted, among other things, creating greater understanding in the EU of the security and economic importance of integrating the Russian Federation into regional cooperation.

During the autumn, Finland hosted a number of prominent ministerial meetings, including in October on EU asylum rules and on police cooperation against international crime. Finland's presidency culminated with the meeting of EU heads of state and government in Helsinki in December.

The campaign for the presidential elections in January 2000 discussed, among other things. the sensitive issue of possible Finnish membership in NATO. Opinion surveys did not show a majority for NATO membership, but 58% said that Finland will join NATO.

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