Finland's Parliament Backs Alexander Stubb as New PM

Finland's parliament on Monday gave the green light to Alexander Stubb to become prime minister after his predecessor said he would step down to pursue a role in European politics.

The 46-year-old was elected by the ruling conservative party on June 14 to form a new government after his predecessor Jyrki Katainen was put forward for a job in the European Commission.

Katainen, 42, in April said he would leave Finnish politics for Brussels and has said he stands as an alternative to lead the EU's executive arm if former Luxembourg leader Jean-Claude Juncker is rejected.

President Sauli Niinistoe will formally appoint Stubb on Tuesday after parliament approved him by 98 votes compared to 76 against.

Finland's former European and trade minister is staunchly pro-EU, was a strong advocate of the country's accession to military alliance NATO and is known for his liberal economic stance.

He faces an economy mired in the longest recession in 20 years as the country struggles with a decline in the paper and electronic industries, an ageing population and rising unemployment.

Finland's public debt, just under 50 percent of economic output when Katainen took office in 2011, will this year surpass the European Union limit of 60 percent.

On Friday the government announced a 1.1-billion-euro ($1.5-billion) stimulus package, including a mix of new spending and lower taxes, in a departure from the austerity pursued by the former prime minister.

Stubb's administration will be made up of the same five parties that form the existing coalition, including the Conservatives and the Social Democrats, and three smaller groups.

Source: Agence France Presse

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