And thus begins my reluctant Finnish Politics 101. I’ll go through the major parties and, when and if I get to the end, I’ll post a summary of what I learned.
Kansallinen Kokoomus (Swedish: Samlingspartiet), or the Finnish Coalition Party is one of the three major parties in Finland, sharing the top with the Social Democrats and the Centre Party. (Note that Finns use the British spelling rather than the American one. Take that, ye silly New World bullies!)
On the Coalition website, the party is summarised thus:
The Coalition is a centre-right people’s party and has supporters all over Finland. The supporters are a cross-section of the population of Finland, Coalition members are equally in different professional and age groups. Therefore, the Coalition isn’t advocating the issues of any particular part of the population but, true to its name, is a general party.
History and general politics of the Coalition party:
The Coalition was founded right after the declaration of independence (from Russia) in 1918. The roots of the party are in the 19th century Finnishness movement. At the time, Finland was an autonomous province of Russia, but was about to be re-integrated into Russia major and the party unified for the independence of Finland.
In the 1979’s the party began to focus on freedom and tolerance, and those with more traditional values began moving to other parties. In 2006 the Coalition defined itself as a ‘centre right’ party, whatever the hell that means. Wikipedia isn’t very helpful on this point:
[Centre right] […] a co-operation between the bourgeois Coalition and the Finnish Centre Party, with possible addition of Swedish Finns or the Christian Democrats.
Right. So we know the Coalition is a bourgeois party. What else does our informant Wikipedia have to say?
[…] the common principles between the members are freedom, responsibility and democracy, equal opportunities, civilisation/education*, encouragement, tolerance and caring. Central to [the Coalition] is the pursuit towards the equilibrium of freedom and responsibility and focus on individuality and enterprise.
The Coalition wishes to preserve the traditions left by the previous generations, focus on the support on ethical and value-based analysis, the responsibility of an individual as well as the close community and patriotism combined with active internalisation and global responsibility.
Position on specific issues:
They are also see belonging to the European Union as a facilitator of safety and affluence, although the commission should use their assets more carefully and focus more on research, technology, environmental protection and foreign policy. The Coalition stands behind a common European defense program. Also, 55% of the members think Finland should also join NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).
The party also supported same-sex marriage, protection the environment of the Baltic Sea, forgoing teaching Christianity** and the mandatory Swedish as a second language. Jyrki Katainen, the current chairman, believes emission-based taxes and the appeal of public transport as important weapons against the climate change. He has also commented that lowering income tax improves general welfare and taxation should encourage entrepreneurship, finding work and wealth.
The environmental program released by the Coalition party in 2011 stated that Finland should be built as the first coal-neutral nation in the world, lift Finland as the top country for environmental technology and educate Finns as the most environmentally conscious people in the world. Not bad!
Summary of the Coalition program for the 2011 general election:
Published on February 26th: “A Travel Guide to a Better-fare State”. The party commits to the following goals:
Better work life, longer careers. “We need jobs in which the employee can do his/her best and enjoy what they are doing, thus being able to work better and longer.” Pfft.
Welfare services can be done better. Better welfare services don’t necessarily mean more expenses. They need to be rearranged so that they are better organised, and less bureaucratic.
Tax reform to support employment. The more Finns work, more taxes can be collected. Taxes should be redirected from working and employing towards activities that burden the environment. (Hooray!) “The Coalition is against a flat tax rate, and since their first election program has supported progressive taxation.”
The Coalition believes in supporting and improving the welfare program and acknowledges that politicians are not the same as the ‘kind bus drivers’, ‘inspiring teacher’ or “in the house of the dropout young to help finding employment or getting into recreational activities”.
* the Finnish word ‘sivistys’ can mean both, or both combined.
**(the subject is called ‘religion’ in Finnish, but mainly focuses on Christian values and history of Christianity)
The Centre Party The Pirate Party! I’m deviating from the original order, because I was asked to become a candidate for the Pirates for the election. I said I’ll think about it after I’ve investigated the politics. :D