This Week in Finnish Politics – Fresh Air?

The current political opposition parties made up from two big parties, the Conservatives and the True Finns have decided to sabotage Finland and the government with the above new policies which appear to be designed to allow them to win the next election in three years’ time. They were not opposed to these policies when they were in power in the last government! Politics today appear to be very fickle and opinions can change overnight especially when you do not get to move around in a chauffeur driven minister’s car.

However, Ms. Marin’s new government is now planning its future policies in a more thorough and transparent manner than the last three or four governments! There are many working groups preparing policy updates according to the Prime Minister and the other ministers in charge of the specific tasks.

The big questions like dealing with immigration, increasing the employment rate, and reforming the social- and healthcare sectors are all in full swing. The government has organised a number of press conferences that have dealt with these topics last week. 

The only major outstanding planning policy that has not been announced so far relates to Climate Change. However, the Ministry of the Environment indicated to FinnishNews this week that there will be a major Climate Change meeting within 2 weeks after which they will announce details of the relevant working groups. 

Readers will recall that the most recent updates of Finland’s Climate Change policies saw a severe setback when it emerged that the size of the Carbon Sink from Finland’s huge forest areas and agriculture land was in fact greatly overstated. The paper and forestry sector appears to have understated the volume of timber removed from the forest. These same private companies are also planning many new industrial investments that will substantially increase felling which in turn will further reduce the Carbon Sink. This means that the government must introduce new more ambitious plans to cut emissions if they want to be carbon neutral by 2035.

Climate Change policies are also being impacted negatively by other public policies. The City of Helsinki amazed residents this year by actually increasing the cost of public transport for residents living and working inside city limits by 47%! They increased the tram fare from €1,70 to €2,80 in one go. The trams are one of the most heavily used forms of public transport for regular and spontaneous trips by commuters and residents. They ply to all parts of the city and are clean, comfortable and fast. They are used for short journeys by workers, and are especially popular with pensioners and mothers with children. 

The outcry was enormous and some residents have stopped using the trams and even resorted to cars because trams are seen to be ridiculously expensive for short trips. Pensioners living off small pensions in Helsinki feel that they are being discriminated against. It is encouraging that the city is now considering reducing the price. If it really wants to be proactive they should allow trams passengers to have free travel like residents in Tallinn. 

Helsinki is also the last big user of coal for district heating and hot water. Their resistance to keeping coal is beyond belief especially when they have ample opportunities this last decade to wean themselves off this vile fossil fuel. The Greens, one of the biggest parties, should be shamed into action because their actions are not green…

The government is also planning to reform the last year’s taxi reform! The reason is simple – the last reform has done exactly the opposite to what the former failed Minister of Transport, now turned banker! Ms. Berner has made taxis are less reliable taxpayers, and fares have gone up even tough she promised lower fares and better service. The bank’s board should watch out – she has a well-practiced habit of looking out for herself at the expense of others, which on consideration, is a good definition of a banker!

Finally, the True Finns remain immensely popular with their siren songs about the dangers of immigration and of measures to save the planet from climate change. In Greek mythology the sirens are said to have killed sailors by luring them with their sweet songs towards treacherous rocks where the sirens made their home. None of the other political parties wants to join forces with the True Finns so they are looking like a rather sad bunch of lost souls.

The other opposition party, the Conservatives, are also singing “new tunes” and they have come up with a really good idea for minimum wages. Their spokesman stated on TV that employers should be paying less than €10 an hour. This is half of the gross average wage that ordinary working folk receive each month. The Conservatives want taxpayers to make up the difference if needed to buy food and pay the rent leaving the employers and company owners with bigger profits and dividends. That is such a clever idea just before threaten strike action that may close down the country’s exports. 

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