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 ”university” 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 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, my family and I moved back to Turku where 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.

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 a lot of work to be done, and in retrospect I can say that the Ministry of Interior performed well.

My dream for a long time had been to chair the National Coalition Party. In the spring of 2016, I felt that the time had come to announce my candidacy for the position of chairman. 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. From June 2016 untill June 2019, I  worked as the Minister of Finance.

During this period we were able to significantly reduce the government deficit while promoting pro-market reforms, cutting red tape, investing in our future and tackling climate change. One of my proudest moments was introducing Sustainable Budgeting as a tool to fight against climate change and promote sustainable development.

Together with the Finance Minister of Chile we created The Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action. Since its launch, finance ministers from fifty countries have signed on to the ’Helsinki Principles’, a set of six aspirational principles that promote national climate action, especially through fiscal policy and the use of public finance.

The Spring 2019 Parliamentary Election were exceptionally tight in Finland. The National Coalition Party was able to gain one seat. In the following elections for the European Parliament my party got the biggest victory in it’s history. The new Government has been formed by a center-left coalition however, and I and my party will focus on a delivering a constructive and optimistic option in the Opposition.

This transition also gave me more time to focus on the European People’s Party. That’s why I am very grateful for being elected to the position of Vice President in the EPP congress in Zagreb in November 2019.

I like my work a lot as chairman of the National Coalition. 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. 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. 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 and the principles of equal opportunities for all are implemented. Equal opportunities form the very basis of 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. That’s why the National Coalition Party promotes policies which aim to increase the employment rate.

We want to reform the job markets from the beginning, middle and end. We need a family leave reform, social security reform and our education system must be further developed. The emphasis of taxation must be moved from the taxation of work to the taxation of harmful behaviour, e.g. polluting. Entrepreneurship must be supported by removing unnecessary red tape of entrepreneurship and trade, both domestically and around the world. We also need immigration to tackle our labor shortage and we wish to remove the means-test of foreign labour. The quality of work careers must also be improved.

Rule-based international cooperation is a requirement for achieving this in the 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:

Petteri Orpo: Kokoomus proposes to exclude Fidesz from the EPP

Mr. Petteri Orpo, Leader of Kansallinen Kokoomus – the National Coalition Party in Finland, has sent a letter to the President of European People’s Party proposing to exclude Fidesz – […]

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Petteri Orpon puhe Brysselin Kansallisseuran Kokoomus 100 -gaalassa

Vice President Secretary General Members and Friends of Brysselin Kansallisseura Thank you for this opportunity to speak at the famous BKS gala dinner! BKS is one of the most dynamic […]

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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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