Critical Points on Current Finnish Policy
European Left Executive Board meets 22.-23.2. in Berlin. Current political situation in member states is discussed. Chairperson of the Communist party of Finland JP (Juha-Pekka) Väisänen and secretary general of the Communist Party of Finland Tiina Sandberg participate in the Berlin meeting.
In the Communist Party of Finland speech Sandberg and Väisänen present a picture of current Finnish political landscape where some of the working class and many people unsatisfied with austerity politics feel that with the last parliamentarian elections 2019 a change in the politics has been done and a progressive future can be achieved. A great amount, 30 % of people did not use their right to vote and the populist True Finns party is at the top of the parties' support surveys.
This change into something better is now concretized in a joint government of the Center party, Greens, Swedish party, Left Alliance and the Social democrats.
Besides the feeling of hope the Communist Party of Finland is critical in its observation on current government. Tiina Sandberg lifts up questions of climate and labour policies. Väisänen points out question of culture, peace and security policy.
Currently the Communist Party of Finland is jointly with the European Left organizing an international seminar on shorter working time. Helsinki seminar takes place 21.-22.3. in Helsinki.
Environmental movement disappointed in climate agenda
Finnish government published at 3.2. its new climate agenda. The overall reform of energy taxation, with industrial electricity tax moving to the EU minimum level, increasing the number of electric cars, moving the industry towards a more zero emission, and the preparation of a road map for a fair transition, were the most important initiatives.
The Center party was able to get its own election badges to agenda, such as: "Entrepreneurship, competitiveness and the full potential of the country are prerequisites for a fair transition." Likewise, it was able to take the actions against peat far back into the future. And hold future actions firmly in its own hands when it was recorded in the program that the broad-based peat task force would start work in March 2020 and seeks, not so much to reduce peat production, but to find possibilities for new processed peat products and production.
- The Center party can therefore be extremely satisfied with the situation. The Left Alliance can also say that it has succeeded because the very important record of social justice is mentioned several times in the program. But those in environmental movement who were expecting concrete policies and actions were disappointed. There is an urgent need for a determined move away from a capitalist model where everything is ultimately guided by the pursuit of profit, says Tiina Sandberg.
New necessary steps
The pursuit of profit will inevitably always lead to the search for loopholes, the outsourcing of effects to places where they are not easy to be seen, the exploitation of cheap labour and, ultimately, the outsourcing of the environmental crisis from wealthy countries to poorer ones. Emissions trading or individual consumers are not enough to stop this phenomenon.
Of course, it is clear that it is not possible to change the world economic model overnight or from one country and by its government. However, it is equally clear that also in Finland we can act and take steps in the right direction. And these steps need not lead to a collapse in people's quality of life.
- As the most significant step towards curbing the devastating effects of capitalism, I currently see a reduction in working hours to 6 hours without lowering level of wages. It would transfer money from (international) capital to the pockets of working people in Finland. The fall in unemployment is necessary part of a fair transition where the wealth already accumulated to few is distributed more equitably. I also believe that the European Left Environmental Working Group can name many other concrete steps towards a more sustainable future, as it begins to outline a road map towards a sustainable future. We are in a situation where we need urgently to start to take political decisions. It is far too clear that capital is willing to keep the status quo going until it is too late for the plane, says Tiina Sandberg
From Peace movements point of view the Sanna Marin government is a government of disaster. Peace movement has systematically campaigned against new air fighters deal for the Finnish army. Currently Finland has an air fighter system of some 64 Hornet fighters. Peace movement has campaigned for move open public debate on the issue – safety and defence political strategy, and for the option to find other ways for strengthening Finnish foreign and defence police than the proposed deal of new 64 air fighters.
Some say that new government hands are bound in the two previous governments safety political agreements that strongly underlines the need to fully replace current Hornet Fighters with new ones. No political party in the Parliament has opposed the replacing the fighters. Left Alliance has pointed out that according party's decisions less fighters would be enough, and Finland should consider doing the deal with Swedish air fighter company and not to make a direct NATO dependence connection through the air fighter deal.
Finnish Peace movement is in good hands of honestly committed peace activist. Many of the activists are mostly from the Greens or the leftist parliamentarian parties. Communist Party of Finland have been in the streets with the Peace movements campaign collecting names to oppose the new air fighter deal. Now there is a governmental decision made of use of 10 billion Euros for the air fighters. Testing of five different air fighters is going on. Parliament will decide the air fighter deal next Year.
- We in SKP consider Marin government as disaster for all the NGO work activist have been doing to work against NATO, militarism and nuclear weapons. SKP clearly declares that the 3 billion Euros that we have in our military budged yearly is enough to guarantee independent and reliable security and defence in Finland. There is a need to develop the Finnish army and it must be done developing the human resources first. Therefore, SKP strongly opposes any new air fighter deal that makes Finland reliable to any foreign countries or NATO linked military technology. We also must create, with the help of European Left Peace WG, an all-European campaign for Nuclear weapon free Europe, says JP (Juha-Pekka) Väisänen.
Emmanuel Macron has just launched again the debate of the importance of threat of nuclear attack as a European military strategy. This is debated in Finland today and our minister for defence Antti Kaikkonen is not opposing the idea.
- SKP for sure is opposing Emmanuel Macron idea of European threat of nuclear attack as an all-European military strategy. We think that Finnish Parliamentarian left and the greens are doing a serious political mistake undermining the Peace movements initiative and supporting the right wing led military policy agreeing on the new air fight deal making it the biggest military investment since the world war II, says JP (Juha-Pekka) Väisänen
Culture and the Arts hopeful to get increase in budget
Finnish culture and arts budget is a shame pit in European cultural landscape. Finnish government funds culture and the arts only with 0,7 % of the total state budget. That in the happiest country of the World. Artist and cultural workers are very unsatisfied with the current situation. Many of the artists are living under the poverty line 1200 € monthly. This situation is result of a right wing led cultural policy culture. Culture and the arts is understood as a private business one does to promote a profiting business. Artist have been forced to be entrepreneurs. There is hardly any space for alternative debate of new ways to develop Finnish culture. SKP has proposed that communities and the state have to start employ artists in the work of the artist paying them a monthly salary like any other worker.
Creative industries contribute 7 % of the total employment in Finland that is almost at the same level with big industries that take care of 8 % of Finnish employment.
Before the parliamentarian election of 2019 and before current Sanna Marin government there was a mutual agreement on parliamentarian parties to increase state culture and arts budget to the level of 1 %. It is even written in the current government aims. Only the concrete part is missing. There is no increase of money in current budget.
- We, SKP and the cultural and artist organizations are carefully observing the development of the promise increase of cultural budget and are hopeful that the spring budget decision debates make promises a real thing, says JP (Juha-Pekka) Väisänen.
- SKP wishes to strengthen the work of EL CULT WG. We propose to prepare a well-organized cultural policy debate dealing with questions like cultural workers and artists basic security, role of the state and communities in creating sustainable culture and relation of the politics and activism with art - what is activism and what is art. SKP wishes to create an art policy workshop as part of the Next European Forum program and do that in the streets of the city where the forum will be hold, says JP (Juha-Pekka) Väisänen.