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Factbox: Petteri Orpo, Finland“s likely next prime minister

2023-04-02T20:01:30Z

National Coalition Party chair Petteri Orpo talks with voters as he campaigns, ahead of Finnish parliamentary elections on Sunday April 2, in Vantaa, Finland, March 31, 2023. ANTTI AIMO-KOIVISTO/Lehtikuva/via REUTERS

Here is a profile of Finland’s conservative National Coalition Party leader Petteri Orpo, who said he would have the first chance of forming a coalition government after his party looked set to win the most seats in parliament in Sunday’s election.

Born in 1969 in rural south-west Finland, the 53-year-old Orpo has a university degree in political science.

He has been a member of parliament since 2007 and became head of the National Coalition in 2016 after challenging his predecessor Alexander Stubb, a former prime minister, for the party leadership.

Considered a moderate and a smooth negotiator, Orpo has held several government posts, including as minister of agriculture and forestry from 2014 to 2015, interior minister from 2015 to 2016 and finance minister from 2016 to 2019.

He earned praise across most of Finland’s political spectrum for his handling as interior minister of the 2015 migration crisis in Europe, when the Nordic nation saw a tenfold increase in refugee arrivals.

A self-styled fiscal conservative, he aims to cut spending on unemployment benefits and other welfare programmes to reduce the government’s budget deficit and make room for tax cuts aimed at boosting economic growth.

Orpo has kept his options open with regards to which parties he may govern with after the election, including his main rivals for the top job, outgoing Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Social Democrats and nationalist Finns Party leader Riikka Purra.

Married and with two children, he is also a reserve officer in Finland’s national defence force.


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