Finns flag potential stumbling block to Portugal aid

* True Finns party says would oppose EU bailout fund aid

* 2 other opposition parties also against EFSF aid

* Parliament backing not required in most euro zone states

By Terhi Kinnunen

HELSINKI, April 7 (Reuters) – A Finnish populist party
tipped for strong gains in elections this month said it would
oppose an EU request on aid for Portugal, flagging a potential
stumbling block to a European rescue package.

The leader of the eurosceptic True Finns party, Timo Soini,
said on Thursday his party would vote against funding, a day
after Lisbon said it would seek financial assistance from the
bloc.

True Finns has benefited from voter discontent at the
handling of the euro zone’s financial crisis and increased its
support fourfold to around 16 percent since the last general
election in 2007.

In contrast to most euro zone states, Finland retains the
right to put requests to tap the euro zone’s EFSF rescue fund to
a majority parliamentary vote.

Two other Finnish parties currently in opposition, the
Social Democrats and the Leftist Alliance, have in the past
opposed euro zone bailouts for fiscally compromised members
states.

Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi said drawing up an aid package
for Portugal would likely take a few weeks, which means
Finland’s new parliament would have to approve it.

In Lisbon, the Portuguese governmment said it would
formalise its request for a rescue package that could reach 85
billion euros ($122 billion) on Thursday and officials in
Brussels said a deal could be reached before a June 5 election
in the Iberian nation. [ID:nLDE7361H1]

Finland’s Finance Minister Jyrki Katainen earlier told
public broadcaster YLE that a Finnish parliamentary ‘no’ vote
could threaten the whole EU aid package “because it requires
unanimity” among the bloc’s states.

Katainen estimated Finland’s stake in aid guarantees to
Portugal could be around 1.2 billion euros.

Both ministers said it was impossible to estimate how the
new parliament, to be elected on April 17, would vote. But they
urged politicians to be mindful of the risk of a new recession
hitting Europe, including export-dependent Finland.

“There is still a danger that in Europe the uncertainty in
the money market could lead to a domino effect, similar to that
which took place in 2008-2009, and that Europe or Finland cannot
afford,” Kiviniemi said.

A poll published on Tuesday showed Katainen’s National
Coalition party leading with the most voter support and the True
Finns close behind. [ID:nLDE7340XL]

Overall, the four parties currently in opposition stood at
46 percent and those in government at 52 percent.

($1=.6996 Euro)
(Reporting by Terhi Kinnunen; Editing by John Stonestreet)

Finns flag potential stumbling block to Portugal aid