Conservative Speaker of New Finnish Parliament
HELSINKI, Finland (AP) _ Ilkka Suominen was elected speaker of Finland’s parliament Thursday, reflecting the victory of his conservative National Coalition Party in national balloting two weeks ago.
The speaker’s job will give Suominen a formal role in negotiations beginning Monday for a new coalition government and an advantage in trying to bargain his own party into the Cabinet for the first time in 21 years.
The National Coalition Party was left out of Helsinki’s consensus governments for many years in deference to the Soviet Union, which shares a 793-mile border with Finland.
Suominen, 47, won 171 votes from the 200-member Eduskunta, or parliament, with only the communists opposing him.
About 20 black-garbed women briefly disrupted the procedings when they staged a rare demonstration protesting attempts to use women in the military service. They were ushered out peacefully after they threw protest notes down from the public balcony.
Though the conservatives came in second in the voting March 15-16, Finnish tradition calls for the party which made the largest gain to get the speaker’s post.
Suominen’s party boosted its representation from 42 seats to 53, challenging the long-time domination of Prime Minister Kalevi Sorsa’s Social Democratic Party which won 56 seats.
The Social Democrats fell by more than 100,000 votes from the previous election in 1983, but they lost only one seat under Finland’s complex mix of direct elections and proportional representation. The conservatives’ nine-seat gain resulted from an increase of just 6,000 votes.