Finland government resigns over failed reforms

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Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila resigned after the government's biggest project, the health and social care reform, collapsed in parliament just weeks before a general election.

The head of the prime minister's parliamentary group said the resignation offer is over failed health and social care reforms. But he insisted that Finland "needs a reform", indicating the issue is likely to play a large role in elections and the next government's mandate. Commentators have said that Sipila now chose to go as the key reform failed.

President of Finland Sauli Niinisto (L) and Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila, who announced his government's resignation, shake hands at the president's official residence, Mantyniemi, in Helsinki, Finland March 8, 2019. "I am a man of principle and in politics you have to carry responsibility", Sipila told reporters, adding: "I am taking my share of responsibility".

"The social welfare and healthcare reform was one of our government's most important objectives", Sipila said at a press conference.

The Social Democrats have been leading opinion polls in the run-up to the election, with Sipila's Centre party trailing in third place at around 15 percent.

Finland's outgoing Prime Minister Juha Sipila said on Friday he was "hugely disappointed" that his cabinet had to resign over its failure to pass a long-planned healthcare reform. The government's resignation would not change the timetable for next month's elections, the justice ministry said. The coalition included his own Center Party, the National Coalition Party and the small populist Blue Reform Party, once part of the euroskeptic True Finns.

Among the reforms discussed were a centralisation of services into new regional healthcare authorities - which would take over from the current local municipalities - and the use of more private health care providers, a subject of heated debate.

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