Juha Sipilä

Juha Sipilä
65th Prime Minister of Finland
Assumed office
29 May 2015
President Sauli Niinistö
Deputy Timo Soini
Preceded by Alexander Stubb
Personal details
Born (1961-04-25) 25 April 1961
Veteli, Finland
Political party Centre Party
Spouse(s) Minna-Maaria Juntunen
Children 5
Alma mater University of Oulu
Military service
Allegiance  Finland
Service/branch Finnish Army
Rank Captain[1]
Juha Sipilä in Vaasa, 2015

Juha Petri Sipilä (Finnish pronunciation: [ˈjuhɑ ˈsipilæ]; born in Veteli, 25 April 1961) is the current Prime Minister of Finland. A relative newcomer to politics, he has a successful background in business.[2] He has been the leader of the Centre Party since 9 June 2012. After leading the Centre party to victory in the 2015 general election, Sipilä formed a centre-right coalition and was appointed Prime Minister by the Finnish Parliament on 29 May 2015.[3]

Education and military service

Sipilä graduated from Puolanka lukio (Finland's university-preparatory high school), completing the matriculation examination with high marks in 1980.[4] In 1986 Sipilä earned his Master's degree in engineering from the University of Oulu.

Sipilä has the rank of Captain in the reserves of the Finnish Defence Forces.[1]


Sipilä's career started at Lauri Kuokkanen Ltd., first as a thesis worker and later as a product development manager. Changing jobs, he became a partner and later CEO at Solitra Oy. In 1998, Sipilä started his own business, Fortel Invest Oy. In 2002–2005 he worked as the CEO of Elektrobit Oyj, then returned to his own business.

Sipilä was managing director of Solitra in 1992 and became the main owner in 1994. Sipilä sold Solitra to American ADC Telecommunications in 1996, becoming a multimillionaire from the proceeds. Business ADC Mersum Oy was resold to Remec in 2001.[5][6]


As a student, Sipilä worked for a short time in the Finnish Centre Youth, but otherwise he did not have experience in party politics before being elected to the Finnish Parliament in 2011 with 5,543 personal votes.[7][8] In 1990's Finnish Centre Party elite had formed an informal coalition with National Coalition Party.

In April 2012, Sipilä announced his candidacy for the chairman's position in the party congress of the summer. On June 9, 2012, the party congress elected him chairman. He beat Tuomo Puumala in the second round by 1251 to 872 delegate votes.

Sipilä led his party to victory in the 2015 election, where the Centre Party gained 14 seats compared to the previous election. With 30,758 personal votes he was the most popular candidate in the election.[9] Following the election, he was tasked with forming a government coalition; and as the leader of the Centre Party, he began formal negotiations with the Finns Party and the National Coalition Party and formed a three-party majority coalition.[10]

Sipilä's government has struggled with Finland's poor economic performance,[11] caused according to Paul Krugman and others by the constraints of its eurozone membership and aftershocks from the European debt crisis,[12][13] but also by the decline of the paper industry, the fall of Nokia and a diminution in exports to Russia.[14][15][16][17] Its attempts to address the problems through policies of spending cuts and reducing labour costs have been controversial, particularly cuts to education spending that are seen as threatening Finland's successful public education system.[16][18] These austerity measures have partly been implemented due to European Commission pressure, which has urged Finland to improve its adherence to the Stability and Growth Pact[19] and reform its labour market to improve competitiveness.[20] On 22 July 2015, Sipilä announced his government's commitment to reducing Finnish wage costs by 5% by 2019, an internal devaluation caused by Finland's loss of the ability to devalue its currency to boost competitiveness.[21]

There have been protests against the government's austerity measures.[18][22]


Talvivaara mine financing

Talvivaara mine (also called Terrafame) has been a politically controversial business for years. In spring 2016, the Parliament gave Talvivaara Mining Company €144 million. Its aim was to shut down the mine later. In November 2016 the Sipilä government gave additional €100 million. By 11 November 2016, Talvivaara mine had been funded by state in total with over €800 million. The total state support was €200 million until end of 2014 when Talvivaara Sotkamo was in bankrupt. The major share of state support have accumulated after bankruptcy.[23] Some days after the Prime Minister approved a €100-million funding for the mine, the company owned by Juha Sipilä relatives (including children and uncle) received a €500,000 order from Talvivaara mine.[24][25] According to Sipilä, the bidding competition was organized by Pöyry,[25] whose major owners (33%) include the brothers Henrik Ehrnrooth, Georg Ehrnrooth and Carl-Gustaf Ehrnrooth.[26][27]

Personal life


Sipilä grew up in the small town of Puolanka, northern Finland, east of Oulu, the firstborn of four children to mother Pirkko and father Pentti Sipilä, an elementary school teacher.[4]

In 1981, Sipilä married Minna-Maaria Juntunen at Oulu Cathedral. They have five children.[4][28] Their youngest son, Tuomo (born in 1993), died on 18 February 2015.[29]


Sipilä is known for his interest in wood gas electricity generation, which began as a hobby.[8] The cost to bring power to his summer cottage seemed too high, and he became interested in wood gas. First, he produced the electricity with wind power and with a diesel generator, but then he started building wood gas plants. He converted an old Chevrolet El Camino into "El Kamina" (Kamiina means "stove" in Finnish.) powered by wood gas, with electronic control systems.[30] This hobby was spun off into a company, Volter Oy, which produces wood gas power plants. A 10-house ecovillage in Kempele is powered by one such power plant.[31][32]

Religious affiliation

The Sipiläs are members of Rauhan Sana (transl. "Word of Peace", affiliated in North America with ALCA), a small Laestadian revivalist denomination within the state Lutheran church of Finland. The Sipiläs first met at a Laestadian summer camp as teenagers.[28] Sipilä has stated he does not consider himself a legalistic Laestadian, and in interviews he has carefully distinguished his own Laestadian denomination from his home region's other, predominant, exclusive Laestadian group (Conservative Laestadianism).[33][34][35]


  1. 1 2 http://www.iltasanomat.fi/kotimaa/art-1288474136351.html Ilta-Sanomat: Keskustan Juha Sipilä ylennettiin kapteeniksi (4 June 2012) (Finnish)
  2. http://www.euronews.com/2015/04/19/opposition-leader-juha-sipila-wins-elections-in-finland/
  3. http://yle.fi/uutiset/mps_vote_sipila_in_as_prime_minister__result_not_unanimous/8025742 YLE News: MPs vote Sipilä in as prime minister- result not unanimous. 28 May 2015
  4. 1 2 3 Mika Koskinen (March 31, 2015). "Näin Juha Sipilä on muuttunut – katso lukio-, hää- ja lapsuuskuvat". Iltasanomat. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  5. Yritysuutiset8.1.2004
  6. Yrityskaupan hyväksyminen; Remec, Inc. / ADC Mersum Oy 26.10.2001
  7. Juha Sipilä accessed 9 June 2012
  8. 1 2 Miska Rantanen (2012). "PROFILE: Juha Sipilä". Helsingin Sanomat. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  9. "Valitut ehdokkaat Koko maa". Ministry of Justice. 22 April 2015. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  10. "Kolmen ässän humppa – seuraa hallitusohjelmavääntöä Smolnassa hetki hetkeltä". Yle. 8 May 2015. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  11. Walker, Andrew (2016-02-29). "Finland: The sick man of Europe?". BBC News. Retrieved 2016-11-06.
  12. Paul Krugman (29 May 2015). "Northern Discomfort". The Conscience of a Liberal. http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/05/29/northern-discomfort/: New York Times.
  13. Paul Krugman (1 June 2015). "The Finnish Disease". The Conscience of a Liberal. http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/06/01/the-finnish-disease/?_r=0: New York Times.
  14. "In Finland, the euro is not the real problem". EUobserver. Retrieved 2016-11-06.
  15. "Finland and asymmetric shocks | Bruegel". bruegel.org. Retrieved 2016-11-06.
  16. 1 2 Walker, Andrew (29 February 2016). "Finland: The sick man of Europe?". BBC News. Retrieved 14 November 2016.
  17. "Finland's economic winter". The Economist. Retrieved 14 November 2016.
  18. 1 2 MacDougall, David (18 May 2016). "Down and Out in Helsinki". Politico. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
  19. Goulard, Hortense (9 March 2016). "Commission tells six EU countries to cut budget deficit". Politico. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
  20. "Council recommendation on the 2016 national reform programme of Finland and delivering a Council opinion on the 2016 stability programme of Finland" (PDF). European Commission. 18 May 2016. pp. 4–5. Retrieved 26 October 2016. (8) To restore Finland's competitiveness, the functioning of the labour market must be improved in several ways. On an aggregate level, wage increases have been moderate since the centrally agreed wage deal was agreed in late 2013. Under the agreement, the year-on-year increase in negotiated wages slowed from 1.3% in the last quarter of 2013 to 0.5 % in the fourth quarter of 2015. In June 2015, the social partners decided to extend the agreement into 2016. However, labour productivity growth has not yet recovered and therefore nominal unit labour costs are forecast to increase, albeit more slowly. Negotiations have been carried out to restore cost-competitiveness.
  21. Hirst, Tomas (23 July 2015). "What's happening to Finland's economy?". World Economic Forum. Retrieved 14 November 2016.
  22. "Finland: Economic forecast summary (June 2016)". OECD. Retrieved 14 November 2016.
  23. Antaisitko 150 euroa Talvivaaran kaivokselle? Tavallaan annoit jo 11.11.2016
  24. Firm owned by PM's relatives gets half-million euro order from Terrafame 25.11.2016 YLE
  25. 1 2 Pääministerin sukulaisten omistamalla yrityksellä noin puolen miljoonan euron tilaus Terrafamesta 25.11.2016 YLE
  26. Henrik Ehrnrooth
  27. Pöyry shareholders in November 2016
  28. 1 2 Mika Koskinen (March 31, 2015). "Juha Sipilän suhde vaimoonsa alkoi 16-vuotiaana erikoisesta tarjouksesta". Iltasanomat. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  29. "Juha Sipilä steps back from election campaign after son dies". Yle. 19 February 2015. Retrieved 19 February 2015.
  30. El Kamina – häkäpönttöauto. YouTube. 4 June 2010.
  31. "Kempeleen ekokortteli". Volter.
  32. "Kempeleen ekokortteli pyrkii energiaomavaraisuuteen". Yle Uutiset.
  33. "Tällainen on Sipilän herätysliike – ei abortille ja eutanasialle". Ilta-Lehti. April 15, 2015. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
  34. "Sipilä linjasi suhdettaan lestadiolaisuuteen". Kaleva. May 30, 2012. Retrieved June 2, 2015.
  35. "Finland poll leader open to deal with eurosceptic populists". Daily Mail UK. April 7, 2015. Retrieved August 4, 2015.

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Mari Kiviniemi
Leader of the Centre Party
Political offices
Preceded by
Eero Heinäluoma
Speaker of the Parliament
Succeeded by
Maria Lohela
Preceded by
Alexander Stubb
Prime Minister of Finland
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