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Finland lawmakers approve center-right Petteri Orpo as PM

The Finnish parliament has elected the conservative politician as the head of the government. Promising a shift to the right, the new prime minister has pledged deep spending cuts and a “paradigm shift” on immigration.

The newly-elected parliament of Finland on Tuesday voted for National Coalition Party (NCP) leader Petteri Orpo to replace Social Democrat Sanna Marin as prime minister.

The decision — essentially a formality — ushers in a new right-wing coalition under Orpo after Marin’s center-left party emerged as only the third-strongest force in an April general election.

After weeks of fraught negotiation, lawmakers voted for Orpo by 107 in favor, 81 opposed and 11 absent.

“I warmly thank you for the confidence you’ve shown me,” Orpo told parliament after the vote.

What is likely to change?

The incoming coalition says it plans to move immigration policy to the right in a “paradigm shift.”

This would involve reducing refugee quotas and raising the bar for work-based visas.

As well as his own conservative NCP, Orpo’s grouping includes the nationalist Finns, the minority-language Swedish People’s Party and the center-right Christian Democrats.

The coalition would also toughen up requirements for foreigners to obtain citizenship, one of the Finns Party’s key demands.

Orpo, who has styled himself as a resolute fiscal conservative, campaigned on a promise to reduce the government’s budget deficit.

He has vowed to make “significant reforms” to social security and the labor market with a pledge to cut the government budget by €6 billion ($6.5 billion) by the end of the parliament’s four-year term.

Orpo also says he will reduce taxes and seek to boost job creation in the private sector.

New NATO member Finland is expected to continue its toughened stance toward its eastern neighbor Russia with which it shares a 1,340-kilometer (832-mile) border.

In terms of key appointments to the Cabinet, Finns Party head Riika Purra becomes finance minister, while deputy leader of the NCP Elina Valtonen is to take over as foreign minister.

Source: Deutsche Welle

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