Finland's prime minister resigns over postal service dispute

ASSOCIATED PRESS
HELSINKI
Published 03.12.2019 16:35
Updated 03.12.2019 16:38
Finland's Prime Minister Antti Rinne gives a news conference on his resignation at the Government Palace, Helsinki, Dec. 3, 2019. (REUTERS Photo)
Finland's Prime Minister Antti Rinne gives a news conference on his resignation at the Government Palace, Helsinki, Dec. 3, 2019. (REUTERS Photo)

Finland's prime minister resigned Tuesday after a key coalition partner withdrew its support from his five-party Cabinet. Antti Rinne, who took office in June, has faced heavy criticism in the past several days over how he and a fellow party member in charge of government companies dealt with Finland's state-owned postal service Posti, whose workers went on strike for two weeks in November.

The announcement prompted the formal resignation of the Cabinet made up of Rinne's Social Democratic Party, the Center Party, the Greens, the Left Alliance and the Swedish People's Party of Finland. Parliament will decide on a new prime minister next week.

The ruling coalition had demanded that Rinne explain the government's statements and actions. However, one key coalition partner, the Center Party, said the explanations weren't acceptable and cited a lack of trust in Rinne, urging him either to resign or to face a no-confidence vote. Rinne tendered his resignation to Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, who told the 57-year-old Social Democrat: "Thanks for the short, but many moments of good cooperation."

The Center Party withdrew its backing for Rinne on Monday, but pledged its continued support for government programs, hence avoiding an early election.

A two-week strike by Finland's postal workers ended on Nov. 27 after a deal was reached on pay. The union representing Posti employees said it was satisfied with the agreement reached over the work contracts of about 700 package handlers. The strike had led to a one-day sympathy strike by the Nordic country's transport sector to support the postal workers, prompting flagship airline Finnair to cancel almost 300 flights and disrupting business in the capital. The resignation comes as Finland holds the EU's rotating presidency.

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