After failing to enact a key policy commitment of Prime Minister Juha Sipila to reform the healthcare system, Finland’s entire government handed in their resignation on 8 March.
The three-party coalition linked the reform to its budgetary policy, but will now have to find other means of balancing public finances. The reform was intended to curb a projected surge in annual social and healthcare expenses over the next decade (2019-2029) from an anticipated 2.4% of GDP to merely to 0.9%.
Sipila, who remains in charge of a care-taking government, until a new cabinet has been appointed. had previously said he would dissolve his centre-right coalition government if it failed to push through its healthcare and local government reform. His plan would open the healthcare system to private providers.
Sipila’s is the third consecutive government to unsuccessfully attempt a sweeping reform of the country’s healthcare system.
As an increasing number of people live longer in retirement, the cost of providing pension and healthcare benefits rises across Europe. Finland follows the Nordic model of providing extensive healthcare coverage to its increasingly ageing population. In 2018, those aged 65 or over made up 21.4% of Finland’s population, that is, the fourth highest rate of pensioners after Germany, Portugal, Greece, and Italy, according to Eurostat.
Sipila’s Centre Party has led a coalition government since 2015; his mandate was renegotiated in 2017 with the National Coalition and Blue Reform parties. The opposition Social Democrats are currently leading the polls. Finland was due to hold national elections on April 14, ahead of European elections.