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About me, Petteri Orpo

 

About my childhood and adolescent years:

I was born in 1969 in the small village of Köyliö in South-West Finland. In Finnish, my last name means orphan. Despite my name, I have a mother and father as well as two elder sisters.

Childhood was a time of happiness. We lived in the small rural village of Vuorenmaa, where my parents were teachers. I completed my primary school in their school, which was right next door to my home.

I only have good memories from my childhood and adolescent years. There were lots of activities to take part in. We had various sports hobbies and we were part of a scouts’ group, and we went fishing. My home village was a safe place to grow up and live in.

I graduated from upper secondary school in 1989 and set off to complete my military service. During the army, I successfully passed the entrance exams at the University of Turku for the Economics study programme, and I decided to head there after the army.

Studying and student life in Turku was brilliant. I was excited to participate in the subject association activities, and already during my first study year, I found myself in the Board of the “T Club”, i.e. the Economics subject association. From there, my journey continued to the student association’s body of delegates and to the Student Board of Turku University as the person responsible for the education policy.  These roles created my commitment towards managing common matters, which has guided me throughout my career.

 

About my work life:

In August ‘94, I was elected as the head secretary of the student association. From that day onwards, I have been employed consistently without even one day off. I was elected as the head secretary of SYL in 1997. That was a true ”higher education institution” for influence. I was able to meet the President of Finland, ministers and officials. We fought for the increase of student allowance and for the increase of income limits, and we also had a good time.

Thereafter, I worked in various different duties in the regional organisation of the party in Southwest Finland. I assume things went well, because Ville Itälä who had worked as the Minister of the Interior since the beginning of 2002 and who had recently been elected as the chairman of the National Coalition Party, invited me to Helsinki as his special assistant.

As Ville’s assistant, I was involved in the tough arenas of policy-making, in negotiations to form the government, and in actions of the parliamentary group and the party. When the National Coalition Party lost the election in 2003 and remained in opposition, I moved to the role of the National Coalition Party’s assistant party secretary. In 2005, we moved back to Turku and I worked as a business service director, until I was elected to Parliament in March 2007.

In Parliament, I was elected as the deputy chairman of the parliamentary group during my first term of office. That was a matter of honour to me.

In 2011, the colourful parliamentary elections led to me being elected to Parliament again. My second term of office was at least as busy as the first one. Before being elected as minister, I managed to work as e.g. the chairman of the National Coalition Party’s parliamentary group and as a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

It is the dream of every politician to become a member of Government, so being elected as the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry in the spring of 2014 was of course a fantastic moment. I am very interested in the industry, which is unbelievably diverse. There is still a lot of unutilised potential in pure Finnish food. Forests also offer an endless number of new opportunities due to new technology.

In the parliamentary elections of 2015, I was re-elected to Parliament. The election results made the National Coalition Party the governing party, and I was offered the position as the Minister of the Interior. At the time, at the beginning of summer in 2015, when the President of the Republic of Finland appointed the Government, I did not yet know, how important the role of the Ministry of the Interior and the Minister of the Interior would become during the autumn. The war in Syria and the other disorder in the Near East and Africa caused an unseen wave of immigration in Europe, which Finland did not avoid. In a very short period of time, a record number of asylum seekers came to our country, and our immigration policy as well as all of its practices had to be reviewed. There was work to be done, and that’s what we did at the lead of the Ministry of the Interior.

My dream for a long time had been to chair for the National Coalition Party. In the spring of 2016, I felt that it was time for this work. In June 2016, I was elected as the chairman of the National Coalition Party. I continue to be extremely grateful for the tremendous support I received! Working as chairman brought along a change to my minister position. Since June 2016, I have worked as the Minister of Finance.

I like my work a lot as both chairman and the Minister of Finance. Already during previous elections and particularly during this electoral term, politics and our society have been at a turning point. There are plenty of challenges and plenty of work, and I want to be helping Finland.

Alongside my governmental day job, I aim to spend time with my loved ones as much as possible. My family consists of my wife Niina, as well as our two school-aged children and our Lagotto Romagnolo dog called Pessi, who joined our family in December 2014. Pessi is very nice and won’t even bark at a politician. We live in Turku. My family means everything to me, and I wouldn’t have stood as candidate in the elections for my third parliamentary term or the chairman of the National Coalition Party without Niina’s approval.

 

About my hobbies:

I go fishing whenever I have the opportunity to do so. I like pike-fishing with lures in Turku’s archipelago, peaceful trolling in the rough northern fjords of Inarinjärvi and whitefish fishing at our summer cabin in Säkylä at Lake Pyhäjärvi.

Unfortunately, I don’t have much time for exercising due to a busy job. Jogging is usually the easiest way for me to keep myself fit.

Cooking at home is fun. I am happy to prepare dinner, it is a way of relaxing for me. If I only have the time, I am the one to keep the kitchen running at home. However, my wife has the main responsibility for feeding our family. I have a couple of friends who are professionals in the restaurant industry. They inspired me a few years ago to expand my menu from barbecues and steaks to some more special and also more everyday meals.

 

About politics:

I believe in a Finland, where the freedom and responsibility of people walk hand in hand. The National Coalition Party wants to be a party, which says yes more often than no. We want people in Finland to believe that you are allowed to do things in this country. You have the right to try and succeed. You have the right to fail, and then you are helped back on to your feet. You can get help, if you need it. You have opportunities. This is the type of Finland that the National Coalition Party has been developing during the last term, and we shall continue to work towards it in the future too.

In a fair society, everyone is cared for. It is also important in terms of the implementation of equal opportunities. Equal opportunities form the basis for a welfare society.

However, to afford our welfare and way of life, we need a significantly higher employment rate, than the one we currently have. We must look at our close neighbours and aim for a Nordic employment level. Therefore, the National Coalition Party wishes to remove the means-test of foreign labour. Therefore, we wish to reform the job markets and social security so that as many people as possible can be employed and receiving work would be more favourable.

The quality of work careers and the work initiatives of people must also be improved. Therefore, we want to reform the job markets from the beginning, middle and end. Therefore, we need a family leave reform and our education system must be further developed. Therefore, the emphasis of taxation must be moved from the taxation of work to the taxation of harmful behaviour, e.g. polluting. Therefore, entrepreneurship must be supported by removing unnecessary hinderances of entrepreneurship and trade, both domestically and around the world.

Rule-based international cooperation is a requirement for achieving this in case of a small country like Finland. The direction we hope for is a uniform and strong EU, which is able to represent its member states and citizens at international arenas, which is able to produce safety and well-being for its citizens better than any member state could do alone. EU must be large in large matters and small in small matters.

Major issues that we must jointly focus on are growth, mitigation of climate change, safety and defence, management of immigration as well as standing up for rules-based free international trade.

 

Blog posts:

Speech at the EPP Congress November 8th 2018.

EU should be the leader of sustainable development “EPP family members ladies and gentlemen,  United we stand, divided we fall.  Europe can only compete with rest of the world if […]

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Speech in the FIIA Seminar 18 January 2018: A Comprehensive Reform Package for the EU

Your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, good morning! First of all, I would like to thank you, Mr. Emmanouilidis, and your team for the report Re-energising Europe. It is a great […]

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Finland will not compromise on Western values

(This post was originally published on Monday 12 June at 5:15 pm. The original post can be found here.) The cornerstones of Western democracy are unaliable human rights, incalculable human […]

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