Left Al­liance’s goals 2020–2023

1. Introduction

The success of politics is measured by the kind of world we leave to our children. The policy of the Left Alliance is forward-looking, environmentally sustainable and feministic, i.e. aiming for equality for everyone. We intend to build a society that is good for everyone, not for some. Our policy guarantees a good life for the generations to come as well.

Even though a long-term perspective is necessary in politics, the time to act is now. This agenda is comprised of proposals that can be implemented in the next couple of years. If achieved, these goals will increase well-being, equality and liberty. Furthermore, they ensure accessibility, human rights and access to employment and income. They also increase economic sustainability and contribute to mitigating climate change and safeguarding biodiversity.

What we want is a world without wars, oppression, deprivation and inequality. We want to change the fossil economy that uses natural resources in an unsustainable way into a climate-smart circular economy and protect nature from overconsumption. Society must guarantee the preconditions for employment, income and equal participation. Society must also offer everyone the possibility to develop themselves. Universal freedom can only happen in a democratic, barrier-free and equal society.

The comprehensive global change towards an equal and ecologically sustainable society pursued by the Left Alliance is described in the Red-Green Future document. The values of the Left Alliance are outlined in the party platform.

2. Well-being in the 2020s

From the point of view of social equality and extensive well-being, the Nordic welfare state has been the world’s most successful social model. However, as the world and society are changing, the welfare state also needs to change. It is the task of the Left to update our well-being model to the 2020s.

The pace of social change is increasingly faster due to technological development, the world is increasingly interconnected, and environmental problems threaten the stability and future of societies. Even though absolute poverty has decreased globally, income and wealth disparities and inequality have increased.

Uncertainty must be addressed by creating safety nets, strengthening people’s resources and through policy that increases equality, dialogue and faith in the future – not by fearmongering or closing borders.

The changes that are going on in the world can increase or reduce inequality, depending on the values on which we build our policy, our ability to foresee the development and courage to make forward-looking decisions.

Our key challenges are to stop climate change, increase economic equality, respond to the transformation of the labour market, protect biodiversity and ensure people’s well-being and equality. These challenges require a clear-cut vision of the future, and resolving these problems must be set as an all-encompassing objective in all decision-making.

Social and technological changes, the ageing of the population and the transition to a low-carbon lifestyle are the key challenges affecting the foundation of our welfare state. Well-being services have been weakened and the old welfare structures no longer succeed in guaranteeing everyone well-being, livelihood and equal conditions for life. On the other hand, a low-carbon lifestyle requires tremendous changes in production, consumption and our lifestyles.

As a solution to these major challenges of our times, we need stricter compelling environmental regulation and pricing of environmental impacts that is based on the actual impact. A climate-wise sustainable life must be made possible for everyone. Moreover, we need investments in infrastructure and research. Social security needs reform to provide support in changing situations in life. Public services must be upgraded so that they are based on people’s needs and prevention of problems. Taxation has to even out income and wealth disparities better than it currently does. The decrease in the level of education must be reversed and the education system must even out differences arising from family background as well as facilitate lifelong learning. Employment policy must focus on the development of competence, working capacity, productivity and working conditions and abandon putting people down.

Securing peace and international cooperation based on common agreements is a prerequisite for the required national and global change.

Humanity, equality, liberty and inter-generational sustainability must be anchored as values that guide all of our decision-making. This way, we can create security, opportunities and faith in the future as well as help Finns to navigate amidst the changes and uncertainty.

3. A sufficient income, good working life and secured future

Work is an important question, not only socially, but also from the individual’s point of view. Work creates value and builds society, work produces well-being and provides income. On the other hand, work can be a burden, and poorly organised or allocated work can cause social problems. There can be too much or too little work.

Work and ways of working are undergoing very fast changes right now. Society’s regulation and social security must acknowledge the diverse forms of work and create equal security, regardless of the forms of working. Self-employed persons must be guaranteed the right to collective bargaining on the price of work. Our social security system has to be reformed to better match the diverse forms of changed work and provide better security to those who are in intermittent employment or underemployment and the self-employed. Finland’s social security system must be reformed comprehensively so as to provide security and incentives in the changing working life and guarantees everyone’s livelihood, also in changing situations in life. The level of basic security has to be increased.

Unemployment is a failure of society, and the individual cannot be blamed for it. It is the state’s task to reduce unemployment through active labour market policies, industrial policy, educational policy and better services. The public sector must shoulder its responsibility for employment, and the state must secure long-term unemployed persons’ right to wage-subsidised work. The Left Alliance considers the realisation of gender equality in wages to be important.

Alongside low income, the high price of housing is a significant factor that causes livelihood problems. Expensive housing causes problems even to the employed, especially in the Helsinki metropolitan area. Adequate reasonably-priced accessible housing has to be built. Keeping the price of housing under control cannot be left to the market alone; an active housing policy and lots of more reasonably-priced housing production are required. The high price of housing is also a reason for increasing excessive debt. The excessive debt and registered payment defaults of citizens can be prevented by securing livelihoods and reducing poverty, besides housing policy. However, stricter regulation of the credit market and providing the over-indebted with genuine opportunities for overcoming their financial problems is also essential. Addressing the high price of housing and preventing excessive debt can also improve the incentives for employment and have positive impacts on employment.

3.1 Security in the changing working life

We want to make Finland the vanguard of equal working life. This requires developing the quality of working life, wage equality and well-being at work, as well as seeing to the terms of employment amidst the change of work and making it possible for as many people to work as possible.

The content of work and revenue models are changing. This is a fact that cannot be ignored. Digitisation, robotisation, artificial intelligence and big data, among other things, are significantly transforming our society as a whole. The change is not only due to technological development; it is also associated with the current neoliberal economic policy that increasingly divides people into winners and losers. There are fewer traditional industrial jobs, which have been replaced particularly by service-sector jobs with poor terms of employment and expert work requiring high qualifications. Intermittent employment and underemployment can no longer be referred to as uncommon forms of working – they are such an established and common part of the Finnish labour market. Diverse forms of platform work and self-employment have also become more common. The ways of working and forms of employment relationships have changed, and many perceive that working life has become more uncertain. The development changes the ways of working, eradicates old jobs and creates new ones, as well as sets new requirements for the skills and capabilities of employees. Therefore, society must must be able to respond to the requirements of the change in work and provide people with security and skills in the changing working life.

The transformation of work and uncertainty increase the stress on people. To offset it, we must create better opportunities for flexible working hour arrangements, coordination of work and family life and updating skills. Many Finns feel that instead of a wage increase, their well-being would be increased the most by the possibility of increasing their leisure time or other kinds of improvements in working conditions. The possibility of a shorter working day or week can also be important due to family reasons, such as caring for one’s children or ageing parents. This could mean more days off or shorter weekly working hours. This kind of compensation for the increase in productivity would also be better for the environment and communality than an increase in spending opportunities.

While some are suffering under excessive work load, other Finns are suffering from the uncertainty caused by intermittent employment and underemployment. Labour legislation has to be developed so that a minimum hourly wage supplementing collective agreement is guaranteed to everyone. Moreover, the principle of fulfilling labour needs with permanent employees instead of diverse intermittent employment relationships and virtual contractors should be strengthened. While the position of the self-employed and small entrepreneurs has to be improved, the Left Alliance wants to bridle diverse forms of compulsory and virtual entrepreneurship, the sole purpose of which is to pass the employer’s risk and expenses to workers.

The public sector must bear the responsibility for relieving unemployment by seeing to stable economic development, a high investment rate and active labour policy. In particular, precision measures to employ young people, the long-term unemployed and people with partial work capacity. Ultimately, the public sector must guarantee jobs for people with partial work capacity and those who have been unemployed for over a year.

The gendered problems of working life, such as wage inequality, gender-biased labour market, accumulation of atypical employment relationships, pregnancy discrimination and harassment must be addressed through new determined measures. A more rigorous attitude must be taken towards the exploitation and underpayment of immigrants, people with partial work capacity, such as people with learning disabilities, and guest workers. Everyone in Finland must be guaranteed wages and working conditions pursuant to legislation and collective agreements. Combining part-time work with retirement or studies should be more flexible. An unemployed person must also be able to study.

The Left Alliance wants to support the culture of agreement in the labour market. Even though the legislator makes the final decisions, many issues are best agreed trilaterally. Agreeing, however, requires balanced negotiation power, not dictation. Local agreements can and should be promoted, but within collective agreements.

The Left Alliance promotes and protects the non-infringement of employees’ rights. We cooperate with trade unions and will continue to guarantee employees’ right to strike and right of association. We demand that the position of shop stewards and occupational safety and health delegates be improved and that they be provided with more working hours for seeing to the matters of the employees they represent. Also, shop stewards’ right to access information should be improved.

 Left Alliance’s goals:

  • Guarantee everyone a subjective right of study counselling throughout their working careers.
  • End labour market waiting periods and other elements punishing the unemployed.
  • Criminalise underpayment. Improve the supervision of the exploitation of foreign labour and human trafficking.
  • Implement the provision on a fair remuneration in Article 4.3 of the European Social Charter in Finland. This, in practice, makes it possible to define a national minimum wage level that guarantees a fair remuneration to those who are not covered by the security provided by collective agreements.
  • Secure employees’ rights to get their outstanding wages by developing wage security, for instance.
  • Allow trade unions to lodge claims and strengthen shop stewards’ operating preconditions and access to information.
  • Ensure that self-employed persons comparable to wage earners are provided with the same rights guaranteed by the Employment Contracts Act to those in an employment relationship.
  • Well-being at work and occupational health need to be developed so that also those in intermittent employment, underemployed and working as self-employed are factually included in its sphere.
  • Prepare a report on the position of those working in the platform economy and draft fair rules for platform work.
  • Encourage both the public and private sectors to launch experiments to shorten working hours in order to increase employment, improve the quality of working life and enhance the productivity of work.
  • Reform the job alternation leave system. Taking a job alternation leave must be possible for those who have been employed for 10 years. It must be possible to hire any unemployed job applicant suitable for the job for the duration of the job alternation leave.
  • Reverse the market of free work that has emerged in Finland, where work corresponding to paid work is done through repeated internships and rehabilitative work.
  • Implement an equal family leave reform in accordance with the 6+6+6 model and facilitate a more balanced allocation of family leaves.
  • Develop a new family caregiver model in which a family member of a patient in end-of-life care can care for their close one at home for a fixed period with an earnings-related benefit.
  • Implement a wage equality programme in which increases in low-wage sectors receive higher increases (“equality allowances”).
  • Develop a database that tracks wage differences anonymously, making it possible to rectify wage differences between genders by using the income register, for example.
  • Give employers three years to bridge any unjustified wage difference between genders. After the three-year transition period, a conditional fine is issued for unjustified wage differences.
  • Create principles of safer space for every workplace with more than 30 employees and train occupational safety and health delegates to act as harassment contact persons.
  • Secure the occupational safety and health supervision resources of the Regional State Administrative Agencies and their prerequisites also for reacting to anonymous reports received via whistleblowing channels concerning cases of harassment and other misdemeanours in companies.
  • Deploy a wage subsidy model that encourages businesses to recruit the long-term unemployed, those with partial work capacity and young unemployed persons by lowering social security expenses
  • Expand the obligation of the public sector to provide employment gradually. Prescribe a subjective right to wage-subsidised work in businesses, municipalities or the third sector for everyone who has been unemployed for more than 12 months.
  • Increase informal care support to an adequate level.
  • Survey and fix the issues of rehabilitative work activities for people with learning disabilities. Develop work activities so that they support transitioning to the open labour market. Strengthen the availability of work coaching throughout the country. The daily compensation paid for work activities must exceed the costs of participating in them. For work matching the characteristics of an employment relationship, wage must be paid to a person with learning disabilities, along with the associated work-related security.
  • The employee shall have the priority of interpretation in agreements. The prerequisite for local agreement must be that it takes place within the boundaries of the collective agreement system.

3.2 Modern industrial policy

Leftist industrial policy strengthens employment, emphasises corporate responsibility and guarantees companies equal conditions of competition. The state must guarantee that companies can operate in a lawful and predictable environment. Businesses must be able to trust that the basic infrastructure of society works and the public sector educates skilled employees for their use. Businesses must carry their social responsibility for working conditions, human rights and environment.

The availability of skilled and capable labour is a prerequisite for the economic success of business in the modern world. Therefore, seeing to the working capacity and education of people throughout their careers is the best industrial policy. Moreover, the state can support the business sector by investing in independent scientific research and development to promote growth in productivity in a way that is humane and environmentally-friendly.

On the other hand, the state cannot guarantee the success of businesses by distributing increasing grants – especially if they concern maintaining existing operations or pollution.

Enterprise support must be reformed so as to support the equal conditions of competition of companies and directing subsidies away from activities with a negative environmental impact. Research, development and innovation grants, on the other hand, must be increased. Investing in RDI grants can also develop the Finnish basic industry so that the raw materials used provide the maximum value added, export revenue and employment.

The improvement of employment rate has taken place in small and medium-sized enterprises in recent years. Small enterprises must be supported by simplifying social security and income taxation. The funding of social security must be reformed so that it concerns all production factors in the same way.

The state must be an active owner. Through company ownership, the state can generate income on the one hand, while developing and diversifying the Finnish economic structure, supporting employment and ensuring the Finnish ownership of critical companies on the other hand. State-owned enterprises must operate in an exemplary way from the points of view of social and environmental responsibility.

The major significance of public services as a provider of socially crucial services and employment must not be forgotten in economic and labour policy. Economic policy subsidies and RDI activities in particular must also be directed towards supporting the preconditions for the development of public services.

There are also non-traditional companies operating in the market. Cooperatives and social enterprises play an important social role, and hopefully a larger one going forward. Alternative methods of organising economic activities facilitate operating without high return requirements and make it possible to take also factors other than profit into account in operations.

 Left Alliance’s goals:

  • Improve the position of the self-employed by adopting an advance decision system for unemployment security and comprehensive insurance and by extending the exempt amount of unemployment security to all income.
  • Support Finnish small entrepreneurs by increasing the lower limit of sales subject to value added tax to EUR 25,000 and the upper limit of the relief to EUR 39,000.
  • Take the transport needs of business into account when deciding on traffic projects.
  • Investigate the means to improve the social and pension security of small entrepreneurs.
  • Reduce enterprise subsidies with limited effects and environmentally harmful subsidies.
  • Increase subsidies for business-driven innovation and R&D activity.
  • Make the nature of state ownership more active. State majority-owned companies shall follow good employer policy and sustainable environmental policy.
  • Aim to diversify the Finnish economic structure with a strategic approach to the development of creative industries, service industries and tourism.
  • Ensure the operational prerequisites of cooperatives and social enterprises in all legislation.
  • Small-scale voluntary and NGO activities are left outside the scope of the Income Register. This secures the operating preconditions of small volunteer NGOs and prevents the waning of NGO activities that generate well-being under the regulation of authorities and administrative burden.

3.3 Towards universal basic income

The Left Alliance’s social security model is based on a positive view of human beings in which a person free from control is useful and productive, both to themselves and the people around them.  The Left Alliance aims for a comprehensive reform of social security towards universal basic income. It is the task of social security to fill in the gaps in which activities for consideration are not possible for one reason or another or in which income does not guarantee livelihood alone.

The transformation of work and society has led to a situation in which the livelihood of many Finns is comprised of diverse combinations of wage income, non-employed work income, capital income and social transfers. The purpose of the old social transfer system was to guarantee people’s livelihood when there is no gainful employment or a person cannot support themselves with it. The old system was built on the assumption that people only belong to one category at a time (such as student, wage earner, entrepreneur or pensioner) and moving from one category to another is slow. The current situation in which different situations in life, social transfers and forms of income are mixed requires a comprehensive reform of the social security system.

The Left Alliance aims to proceed towards universal basic income in stages. We want the bureaucracy of social security to be reduced, the lowest benefits to be increased and harmonised, and combining work and social security be made easier. As the name suggests, universal basic income must guarantee everyone a sufficient minimum income, due to which the goal of the Left Alliance is to increase the level of basic security to EUR 800 per month. Making the risk-based social insurance system more flexible and harmonising and improving it will take us towards universal basic income.

Before universal basic income can be adopted permanently, a large-scale universal basic income pilot must be implemented in Finland and basic security benefits must be harmonised. In an actual universal basic income system, unconditional regular payments are made to all people of age for them to meet their needs. Correspondingly, taxation is amended in a way that “taxes off” the universal basic income from those with higher incomes. The minimum basic security of EUR 800 pursued by the Left Alliance would be sufficient to cover the current basic security benefits and basic social assistance.

Social assistance would be reserved as a tool for social work. In practice, this would mean keeping supplementary social assistance and preventive social assistance so that social assistance would be granted as part of social work. Social credit would be expanded to cover all of Finland as a new tool for social work.

Instead of a conditional system, voluntary-based employment services are created. This would free up resources for assessing the customer’s situation and actual needs and offering more individual employment services.

Reducing pensioner poverty is an important social task. The lowest guarantee and national pensions must be increased further to secure decent income for all senior citizens. Moreover, the situation of those receiving small employment pensions must be made easier by developing the coordination of employment and national pensions.

Left Alliance’s goals:

  • Make it easier to accept work by removing the bureaucratic unemployment traps.
  • Facilitate the flexible merging of employment income and social security and abandon bureaucratic employment policy qualifying periods.
  • Continue and expand the universal basic income pilot. The Left Alliance’s long-term goal is to adopt universal basic income, one step of which is expanded universal basic income pilots. In addition to unemployed persons, wage earners, students, small entrepreneurs and those not economically active should be included in the scope of universal basic income pilots.
  • Merge labour market subsidy, basic unemployment allowance, guarantee pension, early old-age pension, basic sickness and family allowances, child care allowance, study grant and startup grants for entrepreneurs into a single basic security benefit whose level is increased and pegged to the cost-of-living index.
  • Develop the national pension index so that it better takes into account the increase in the cost of living of those with low incomes.
  • Annually increase the pensions of those who receive only national pension and guarantee pension. Reform the coordination of employment pension, national pension and guarantee pension to improve the livelihood of low-income pensioners. The mid-term goal is that nobody’s pension be less than one thousand euros.
  • Start discussions with pension institutions and trade unions on a reform of the pension system and its funding, increasing their fairness to reduce inequality and hear pensioners in the reforms.
  • Guarantee high-quality, comprehensive and free or reasonably-priced public well-being services to everyone.
  • Include student grants in the project to reform social security. Before a comprehensive reform of social security, study grants are to be increased, maximum period of eligibility, abandon the two-step nature of the grant and make student support less loan-based.

3.4 End to excessive debt

The Left Alliance wants to stop citizens from accumulating excessive debt and improve the position of the over-indebted and people with registered payment defaults. Excessive debt causes livelihood challenges and anxiety and is an obstacle to employment, which makes preventing excessive debt also effective well-being and employment policy.

Private debt has increased strongly and steadily in Finland since the late 1990s. Mortgages are big and the loan periods are long. The growth in mortgages is in part due to the lack of reasonably-priced housing, but it is also a factor that has contributed to the increase in housing prices. Consumer loans have also accelerated the accumulation of debt for households. The supervision of instant loan providers is still insufficient, and their advertising is aggressive.

At the end of June 2019, more than 382,700 Finns had a registered payment default. This figure accounts for approximately eight per cent of the adult population. A registered payment default makes day-to-day life harder in many ways. Those who have registered payment defaults cannot, for instance, always renegotiate their loans, which at worst can result in the loans being cancelled and assets being liquidated. Registered payment defaults also make it more difficult to find housing and make many agreements important from the point of view of day-to-day life.

Underlying registered payment defaults, there are often difficulties paying rent, as well as unreasonable housing expenses in relation to income. Debt collection practices and permitted interest expenses on outstanding debts are also a significant factor associated with repayment difficulties and registered payment defaults. Credit lines, which have partly replaced instant loans, also cause debt problems.

There were almost 580,000 debtors in distraint proceedings in 2018, which means that more than one in ten Finns were subject to distraint proceedings. Often, the problem with distraint proceedings is the prolonging and chaining of debt, as the principal does not reduce due to penalty interest and other fees, and the debt recovery procedure results in additional procedures.

The Left Alliance considers that excessive debt and registered payment defaults should be prevented extensively. Stricter regulation of the mortgage and consumer credit market is required. The position of those in distraint proceedings has to be improved. Investments must be made in preventing excessive debt.

Indebtedness can also be prevented in part by improving the level of basic security and wages. Inadequate income to meet everyday needs can force one to incur debt. Instant loans, for example, are often used to cover essential expenses. From this point of view, preventing excessive debt requires the same measures as eliminating poverty; among other things, reasonable wages, improved basic security, improving the quality and availability of public services, lowering and combining the payment ceilings of health care, improving reimbursements for medicines and travel, social housing production and reasonable urban planning.

Left Alliance’s goals:

  • Strengthen the resources of debt and economic counselling and prescribe social crediting as a statutory service.
  • Enhance the regulation and control of the microcredit market.
  • Expand the interest rate and cost cap for consumer credits to apply to all loans, regardless of the amount. Specify an interest rate cap for the entire life cycle of the loan to prevent increasing interest by extending the loan period.
  • Prohibit the advertising of instant loans.
  • Expand the Consumer Protection Act to also apply to non-interest-bearing, expense-free loans with a period of more than three months.
  • Prescribe a maximum period of 30 years for mortgages and tie the lending cap of mortgages to the applicant’s earnings. At the same time, considerably increase the production of reasonably-priced housing.
  • Restrict or eliminate investors’ right to tax-deduct charges for financial costs of a housing company and look for legislative means of preventing the swelling of the housing company loan components of new housing.
  • Make the public sector’s debt collection practices more moderate and use the possibility provided by the Act on Client Charges in Healthcare and Social Welfare to waive fees.
  • Amend the legislation so that registered payment defaults are removed from the credit rating register immediately once the debt has been paid or the grounds for the debt have ceased to exist.
  • Make the situation of those subject to distraint proceedings and those with excessive debt so that the take-home pay actually rewards working. Increase the exempt amount and reassess the graded shares distrained from wages exceeding the exempt amount from the point of view of incentive.
  • Shorten the expiry period of debts subject to distraint proceedings.
  • Increase the upper limit of the exemption period from repayment of debt when a long-term unemployed person finds employment to a minimum of six months.

3.5 Reasonably-priced housing for everyone

Everyone has the right to a reasonably-priced home. Measures to eliminate homelessness must be enhanced, and more reasonably-priced housing must be constructed, especially in major urban regions.

The high price of housing is a key factor affecting the livelihood of those with low comes and thereby increasing inequality in Finland. The problem is particularly severe in the Helsinki metropolitan region, where housing takes well over half of the disposable income of many, even wage-earners. The high price of housing and rapidly decreasing home values in regions with migration loss also prevent people from relocating for work within the country.

Because the rents of unsubsidised rental housing have soared beyond the reach of common people, especially in the Helsinki metropolitan area, increasing the volume of housing production is the most central way of mitigating the pressure on rent increases caused by the high demand. However, also more reasonably-priced and price-regulated housing production is needed. A growth in ARA-subsidised building stock will also help to keep rents in general under control, so the impact would make the housing market healthier overall.

It is important to develop the urban structure in a balanced way and prevent social segregation. Segregation can best be prevented by building a mix of rental and owner-occupied housing and different housing types in the same areas and by allocating special investments in the development of low-income residential areas.

 Left Alliance’s goals:

  • Prescribe a housing guarantee act, guaranteeing everyone the right to safe and reasonably-priced housing in case of homelessness. If necessary, housing is supported by way of individual services.
  • Increase the volume of ARA-subsidised production in growth centres by increasing interest subsidies and developing its conditions so that its use is attractive even with the current interest rates. This would also make it possible for new, genuinely non-profit operators to enter the market. Set the aim of 40 per cent of new construction in the Helsinki metropolitan area being ARA-subsidised production.
  • Steer the start-ups of new ARA-subsidised production counter-cyclically so that it mainly takes place when construction cycles downward. This can help to keep the increase in contract prices and thereby ARA-subsidised rents under control.
  • Allocate subsidies to the construction of reasonably-priced rental housing through start-up grants and increase investments in the state-owned affordable housing company A-Kruunu so that it can increase its production volume.
  • Make the LHT agreements concerning land use, housing and transport more binding to support municipalities in the additional zoning and implementation of reasonably-priced rental housing. Supporting public transport on rails, for example, facilitates smart urban planning and housing next to good connections by public transport.
  • Secure the rights of the weaker party to a lease, i.e. the tenant, and make protection against eviction through legislation stronger, especially in cases of rent increases.
  • Reform the Act on Joint Management in ARA-subsidised rental buildings so that the tenants can actually influence the decision-making concerning their housing conditions.
  • Pilot a rent increase brake with a fixed term of four years to control the increase in the price of housing in growth centres.
  • Improve developer expertise and cost management by increasing training, especially for housing companies, small municipal rental housing companies and municipalities.
  • Allocate demolition grant to underused rental housing companies in areas where housing prices are decreasing and investigate the possibilities of also subsidising the demolition costs of private-owned housing.
  • The price of electricity has a substantial impact on the price of housing. Decrease the pre-tax maximum rate of return of power transmission to 2 per cent.

4. Economy that exists for people

We want to build a fair economic system that guarantees everyone work and income and decreases income and wealth disparity. A lot remains to be done to achieve this, because we are living in a world in which the eight richest men on Earth own as much as the poorest half of all humankind combined. This astonishing figure indicates that even though living standards have improved globally, wealth and assets are concentrated in the hands of increasingly few mega-rich individuals. Income and wealth disparity has also grown in Finland in the past few decades.

Underlying the concentration of wealth are the globalisation and financialisation of the economy and intertwining of economic and political power in a way that is reflected in legislation favouring the rich and crony capitalism. The power of large corporations has increased, while the position and relative share of income distribution of employees have weakened. On the global scale, also the rules of trade and investment policy, tax haven economy and climate change play a significant role in the background of wealth disparity.

In addition to covering public spending, taxation has to even out income and wealth disparities. Progression must be the guideline of taxation, tax on small income must be less than on high income. Finnish taxation must be made to better even out income and wealth disparity. Progression must apply to everyone, regardless of the form of income. However, also taxes based on negative impacts are needed to steer consumption. In particular, the environmental steering effect of taxation has to be improved.

In a fair and functional tax system, everyone pays their taxes as agreed. Tax evasion, informal economy and aggressive tax avoidance undermine the funding base of the welfare society and distort competition between companies. Tax havens are also havens for capital sourced through criminal means. Tax avoidance and informal economy must be addressed, both in Finland and internationally. Inter-state tax competition is ultimately a losing proposal for all countries, so stronger harmonised rules for taxation are needed at the level of the EU.

Monetary policy must be assessed from new perspectives. The current monetary political system that upholds the domination of financial capital is not the only option. Following the euro system, Finland has no sovereign monetary policy, so the changes need to take place at the pan-European level. The aim should be a monetary policy that promotes employment, stability and environmental sustainability.

4.1 A fairer world economy

The world economy must be sustainable and serve the well-being of the majority of humankind. Key needs for changes in the economy are associated with improving environmental and social sustainability. We want more regulation and treaties to restrict the power of large corporations, eliminate tax evasion, ensure the implementation of labour and human rights globally, intervene in environmentally unsustainable activities and make it possible for poor countries to develop.

Tax havens do not only make tax evasion and tax avoidance possible; they also facilitate the funding of drug trade and organised crime. They undermine the funding base of states and distort competition between companies in favour of global mega-corporations. Tax havens contribute to hiding assets and the accumulation of wealth. There has been progress in tempering the tax haven economy in recent years, but a lot remains to be done, both at the global, EU and national levels. Preventing international tax evasion and closing down tax havens must be Finland’s political priority, both domestically and globally.

The world economy is not functioning fairly, especially from the point of view of the citizens of poor countries. The natural resources of the global south continue to benefit the owners of multinational corporations and the narrow power elite of the south the most. Employment and tax benefits too rarely end up in the good of the citizens of developing countries, and large amounts of illegal capital are flowing out of the countries in the global south. Trade agreements and tax treaties should therefore be re-assessed from the point of view of facilitating the development of developing countries’ own economies and leaving a fair share of the value added of global value chains in developing countries. On large corporations must be imposed a country-specific reporting obligation on where they pay their taxes and a responsibility for investigating and minimising the human rights and environmental impact of their operations everywhere.

Banks and financial institutions have great power. The size of the financial economy has multiplied, and the financial market makes real economies sway. Because banks hold a lot of power, their regulation and supervision must be in order. Banks must not be allowed to grow too big, and regulation must ensure the functioning of normal cash cycle in all circumstances. The swelling of the financial sector and hazardous speculative trading must be restrained.

The current debt-driven monetary system on the whole needs to be rethought. It must be made possible for citizens to take care of their normal financial matters without being customers of commercial banks, and the role of the European Central Bank has to be revised to better match the need for creating economic stability and employment in the euro zone countries.

At the European level, the Member States joined through a single currency vary a lot by economic and demographic structures, wage levels and social structures. Yet they all should fit in the same mould of monetary policy, but without a joint financial policy. This asymmetry combined with the restrictions of national economic policy due to the euro rules has put the brakes on the economic development of the euro zone and caused imbalances of current accounts within the monetary union. Excessively strict financial policy restrictions should be abandoned to make sensible stabilisation policy possible for the Member States. The European Central Bank should guide fiscal stimulation directly to the Member States or public infrastructure projects, emphasising investments that promote a just transition towards a carbon-neutral welfare state. Also, joint financial policy capacity should be built.

Europe ending up in a new financial or debt crisis must be prevented through stricter bank regulation and reforms of financial and monetary policy. However, if problems emerge, investors must bear responsibility for the losses, and a debt structuring mechanism must be created for the euro. The euro must be fixed, but the euro cannot be a forced marriage. Therefore, leaving the monetary union must be made possible for Member States that wish to do so without that leading to leaving the European Union as well.

 Left Alliance’s goals:

  • Enact corporate responsibility legislation that requires globally operating businesses to report on and reduce the negative impacts of their operations on human rights. Also, expand the legislation to apply to environmental responsibility.
  • Include imposing and sanction-containing provisions on environmental and human rights responsibility in trade agreements signed by the EU. The EU should review its trade agreements and the international trade system so that they are also fair to developing countries.
  • Promote the regulation of sustainable investing in the EU.  Add a requirement for ethical investments in the Act on Earnings-Related Pension Insurance Companies.
  • Support bringing up taxation and global trade issues in the UN’s agenda.
  • Make mandatory country-specific financial and tax reporting for companies the spearhead goal of Finland in the EU. Having the information openly available ensures that taxes are always paid where large corporations generate their profits. Obligate state majority-owned companies to publish country-specific information as comprehensively as in the country-specific report submitted to the tax authorities.
  • Make Finland join the group of countries preparing a financial market tax to control speculation in the financial market. The tax should be made as comprehensive as possible, but initially, also a smaller number of countries would do.
  • Assess all of Finland’s tax treaties. Renegotiate or terminate treaties that make it possible to not pay taxes or divide the right to tax unfairly between states. Terminate tax treaties with countries not willing to cooperate.
  • Restrict the power of global digital giants through EU regulation, ensuring that they pay their taxes and respect privacy and copyrights.
  • Prescribe a capital exit tax for taxable persons transferring to low-taxation countries.
  • The EU regulation of nominee-registered shares so that held securities must be registered in the name of the actual beneficial owner.
  • Create a public register pursuant to the Norwegian model in which information about the the direct owners and beneficial owners of all companies and shares are collected.
  • Prescribe it as the European Central Bank’s primary task to promote growth and employment also by way of central bank funding, depending on the economic cycle. Propose a right and obligation for the European Central Bank to lend directly to the Member States to a limited extent in proportion to their sizes.
  • Establish a public “people’s bank” under the European Central Bank to manage basic banking operations reliably without unreasonable service charges and yield requirements.
  • Investigate the transformation of the monetary system from a system based on private banks creating money into a more central bank-driven model.
  • Create a leaving mechanism in the monetary union that would not require leaving the EU altogether.
  • Strengthen the autonomy of euro zone countries in terms of financial policy and their responsibility for their own debts, which makes it possible to abandon the problematic deficit and debt rules.
  • Create a clear framework for a debt structuring mechanism of the euro zone countries as part of the European Monetary Fund.
  • Develop the regulation of the financial sector to reduce the risks on the balance sheets of banks, implement investor responsibility and weaken the link between the banking sector and state. Measures are required, inter alia, to separate commercial bank and investment bank functions, as are mechanisms to limit the size of banks.
  • Create joint financial policy capacity in the euro zone to even out cycles and stimulate the economy in crises. Funding the joint financial policy requires raising funds in good times via the EU’s own taxes. With regard to own funds, Finland should promote a tax on financial transactions, the EU’s joint and harmonised corporate tax rate and EU-wide environmental taxes in negotiations concerning the EU’s financial framework and in other contexts.
  • Keeping the imbalances of current accounts of the euro area under control requires procedures that also apply to excessive surpluses.

4.2 Fair taxation

It is important to the Left Alliance that taxation guarantees the funding of the welfare state and evens out income disparity, and that taxes are paid based on the ability to pay. We think that taxation must increasingly effectively support, among other things, a sustainable structural change and transition towards an energy-lean, smart and fully renewable sources-based energy and production system. Our current tax system does not fulfil its purpose in this respect. Moreover, it cannot be considered to be socially fair, as the widely accepted principle of progression is not always realised in practice.

The race of globally decreasing corporate taxation to the bottom will ultimately affect everyone, and Finland should not contribute to accelerating tax competition. Instead, we must actively seek solutions to end the race between countries. Finland must promote EU-level solutions for corporate taxation and keep its own corporate tax rates at an adequate level.

The growth in income and wealth disparity has particularly been seen as the extremes running farther from each other. Due to cuts of basic and social security, those with the lowest incomes have fallen behind the development of earnings. Correspondingly, the earnings and wealth of the highest-earning people have clearly outgrown others. Tax solutions have lightened the taxation of the highest incomes the most. The Finnish system treats the owners of unlisted companies particularly generously, allowing them to convert their income into capital income and withdraw it at a low tax rate.

Favouring high earnings and capital income in taxation also increases economic inequality between genders, as men are over-represented in the highest income deciles and women in the lowest.

A sustainable leftist tax reform will lighten the taxation on work for those with small and medium incomes, increase progression and tighten the taxation of property. Favouring the recipients of high capital income with a separate income tax must be discontinued, and all income must be taxed using a single progressive tax rate schedule. This way, the tax base is broader and simpler, and there is less tax avoidance.

The environmentally steering effect of taxation is improved and those with low incomes are compensated for increases in indirect taxes so that poverty and income disparity are not increased. The tax funds collected are used for ensuring the extensive availability of high-quality public services, reforming society to be environmentally sustainable and guaranteeing the required social transfers.

Left Alliance’s goals:

  • Increase the basic allowance in municipal taxation to increase the net income of persons with low incomes.
  • Tighten the taxation on large inheritances and gifts and tighten the tax base by reassessing different tax benefits, among other measures.
  • Taxation on capital is made stricter by ending the favourable treatment of dividends from unlisted companies by decreasing the limit of tax-free dividends from eight to three per cent. Block the possibilities of avoiding taxes through diverse holding and other company chain arrangements. Increase the progression of taxation on capital.
  • Enact a wealth tax on large wealth.
  • Restrict or eliminate investors’ right to tax-deduct charges for financial costs of a housing company.
  • Decrease the entrepreneur deduction for high-income entrepreneurs.
  • Begin work to harmonise the taxation on earned income and capital and unemployment security and other benefits so that all income is taxed based on the same progressive scale.
  • Enhance the progression of taxation so that no tax is charged on annual income of under EUR 10,000. Correspondingly, abandon the separate taxation on capital that favours those receiving high capital income and tax all income as equal in a single progressive schedule.
  • Remove the right to deduct the insurance premiums of voluntary pension insurance.
  • Promote the adoption of a single and harmonised corporation tax rate and minimum corporation tax rate in Europe to prevent tax competition between countries. Moderately increase the Finnish corporate tax rate.
  • Enact a 30 per cent tax at source on the dividends of nominee-registered shares.
  • Enact a windfall tax and nuclear fuel tax to collect the windfall gains of old power plants brought about by emissions trading to the state.
  • Extend municipal tax to capital income by charging the average municipal tax on capital income by the state and distributing the income to municipalities as part of the equalisation system.
  • Make a comprehensive ecological tax reform that improves the environmental steering impact of taxation and omit tax benefits detrimental to the environment.

4.3 Get informal economy and corruption under control

The financial base of the public economy can be improved by addressing the informal economy and tax evasion. Attention has, fortunately, already been paid to the erosion of the tax base and negative impacts of tax avoidance, and many important reforms have already been made successfully. According to the Left Alliance, curbing tax evasion and aggressive tax planning also requires additional measures, both in Finland and at the international level.

In addition to improving the global and European rules, also the Finnish tax avoidance structures must be dismantled. For example, conversion of income, i.e. artificially withdrawing wages as capital income in order to minimise taxes, and non-transparent investing structures have even increased to some extent in recent years.

The informal economy, i.e. economic activity that avoids paying taxes and fulfilling other statutory obligations, is also a problem from the point of view of healthy competition. When some businesses neglect their obligations, honest entrepreneurs suffer. The informal economy is also linked to human trafficking and undermining of employees in a vulnerable position.

The informal economy and tax avoidance can – and must – be tackled. In addition to legislative reforms, better supervision is needed. This also applies to corruption, abuse of a position of power for the benefit of oneself or a closed group of beneficiaries. The abuse of a position of power based on “old boy networks”, which is typical of Finland, is not visible in conventional corruption measurements.

Left Alliance’s goals:

  • Expand the use of the compulsory tax number from the construction industry in phases to the hotel and catering industry, cleaning industry, property service sector, shipbuilding industry, technology industry and other areas with risk of informal economy.
  • Commission type-approved cash registers in the hotel and catering industry.
  • Plug the practices in Finland’s national legislation that make aggressive tax planning and tax avoidance possible.
  • Reform the failed taxi act so as to curb tax evasion with mandatory fare meters, for example.
  • Make harmful tax planning unequivocally illegal and remove the possibility of tax evasion through insurance wrappers, holding companies, group loans and other similar arrangements.
  • Implement the reforms included in the EU Anti-Tax Avoidance Directive at the most ambitious level possible.
  • Eliminate the tax avoidance possibilities associated with the nominee registration of shares and increase the publicity of shareholdings.
  • Criminalise assistance to tax evasion: when a company, private individual or other legal person has been found guilty of tax evasion in a court of law, the party that planned and/or implemented said tax evasion arrangement shall also be made liable.
  • Expand the publicity of tax data so that also subsequent corrections of taxations are public.
  • Revise the contractor’s obligation to check liability when work is contracted out in accordance with the chain liability model so that the contractor is ultimately liable for the taxes, tax-like levies and employees’ wages of its subcontractors.
  • The Government must prepare and ratify an anti-corruption strategy that covers the entire parliamentary term.
  • Prepare an act to protect those reporting suspicions of corruption against countermeasures.
  • Revise the Public Procurement Act so that the client can more easily intervene in any informal economy observed.
  • Increase the resources of the authorities investigating and processing informal economy, tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance.

5. Environmentally sustainable society

Climate change is the biggest challenge of our times, and building a climate-sustainable society is a task that is in the same magnitude with the building of the welfare state.  However, time is running out, and that is why we must act now. From the point of view of inter-generational fairness, we are responsible for taking action.

Climate change is not the only human-induced environmental problem that threatens Earth and humankind’s future. Together with the loss of biodiversity and other environmental problems, climate change is part of the major environmental crisis caused by fossil capitalism that weakens the living conditions of our planet, as well as democracy and human rights.

Finland and the Finns are responsible for doing their own part in mitigating climate change and resolving the environmental crisis – both nationally and internationally. We cannot save Earth alone, but we are obligated to adjust our lives to the boundary conditions required by the environment. At the same time, we can show an example to the rest of world of how an environmentally sustainable way of life can be aligned with policy that reduces inequality and increases well-being. The carbon-neutral welfare state is Finland’s best possible export.

5.1 Climate sustainable economy

Mitigating climate change requires a change in the political climate. The Left Alliance deems that environmental sustainability must be made something that determines all policy: a sustainable society can only be built within the boundaries set by the environment. The environment and climate must be taken into account in all sectors of politics in a transversal way. The aim must be that Finland be a carbon-neutral society in 2030 and all of Europe in 2040. After this, both must be net-negative. Achieving the objective requires stricter emissions reduction targets and preparation of sector-specific plans.

The question of what we can afford must be rephrased. The sustainability gap must also be redefined. We must ask what we can afford from the environmental point of view instead of only thinking about what we can afford in terms of money. We must reduce the environmental sustainability gap and decrease the environmental debt left to future generations. Moreover, the financial discipline rules of the European Monetary Union and monetary system must be redefined from this perspective.

Besides euros, emissions and emissions budgets must be made a boundary condition guiding the planning of the state’s economy and activities. Annual emission and natural resource budgets that cannot be exceeded must be defined for diverse areas of administration, society and economy.

The measurement of policies and society needs reform. GDP growth can no longer be the indicator determining social policy; indicators measuring emissions and actual well-being must be adopted besides it. Growth is not an end in itself; good and environmentally sustainable life is.

Climate change and the environmental crisis are results of our unsustainable economic and social model, fossil capitalism, which does not take the planetary boundary conditions into account. Climate change primarily results from carbon dioxide released from the use of fossil energy sources and changes in land use, which have reduced carbon sinks. Our economic system is built on the use of fossil energy sources, and now it has to be decoupled from them.

Our economic model is built on unsustainably continuing consumption of natural resources. Wealth and capital growth are partly built on feet of clay, by destroying and exploiting the environment and preconditions for the life of future generations. Continuous growth in resource consumption is, however, impossible on Earth with its limited resources. The current economic model wastes resources and generates an increasing amount of waste, with raw materials and products thrown away after single use and the nutrient cycle ignored. The wasteful single-use economy built on single use and use of virgin natural resources must be replaced with a fossil-free circular economy based on reuse and thrift.

Building a climate-sustainable society requires changes in our economic model and methods of steering the economy. The change will not take place by itself; we need incentives, restrictions and economic control. Environmental control must be made a guiding principle of taxation besides preventing inequality. The polluter and causer of environmental impacts has to pay, and environmentally sustainable choices must be made financially profitable options.

Finland, Europe and the entire world need their own programme for ecological reconstruction and climate well-being, a green new deal, used for laying down a plan fro the transition towards a climate-smart and environmentally sustainable economy and making a plan for securing employment and well-being as well as reducing inequality in the changing economy. The programme must outline the implementation of the required investments and the needs for amending taxation and legislation. Mitigating climate change must not lead to increased inequality and income disparity. Therefore, the programme should also outline the ways in which the income disparity-evening effect of taxation is strengthened, and the changes with which those with low incomes are compensated for the increase in environmental taxes through taxation or by strengthening social security.

Fighting climate change is often deemed to be a threat to jobs. Some jobs will inevitably disappear and job descriptions will change, but decoupling from fossil fuels, favouring environmentally-friendly local production and a circular economy that is based on the reuse of resources can, in fact, create more jobs. In any case, work will change, so employees must be provided with change security and retraining must be facilitated.

Left Alliance’s goals:

  • Finland and Europe must create an ecological reconstruction programme (Green New Deal) to comprehensively transform society in an environmentally sustainable and socially fair way.
  • Implement an ecological tax reform in which taxes are determined on the basis of the emissions generated.
  • Instead of austerity, Europe must engage in a Green New Deal policy that facilitates ecological reconstruction. The monetary policy measures of the European Central Bank must be directed in a way that is reasonable from the point of view of the environment.
  • Create a sustainable transition programme outlining how to improve the progression of taxation and compensate those with low incomes for the increases in environmental taxes and prevent growth in income disparity, and how to support sectors and areas that will lose jobs linked to the use of fossil fuels.
  • Reduce and ultimately discontinue tax aid for peat.
  • Reduce company subsidies that are linked to the use of fossil fuels.
  • Develop value added taxation in an emissions-based direction.
  • Increase taxes on fossil fuels based on emissions.
  • Take impacts on emissions into account in all public investments and minimise them.
  • Obligate pension funds to report on their fossil investments and reduce them.
  • Obligate financial market parties to report on carbon risks.
  • Enact an emissions-based flying tax.
  • Promote the adoption of carbon tariffs at the outer borders of the EU. The goal is a global market environment in which being low-carbon is a genuine competitive advantage for Finnish and European companies.
  • Promote the extension of product life cycles through incentives to repair products by transferring repair services to a reduced value added tax rate.
  • Prohibit the planned obsolescence of products at the EU level.
  • Fund independent research that produces data based on social and behavioural sciences and education to support the fight against climate change.

5.2 Less emissions

Mitigating climate change requires a rapid reduction of emissions. This is difficult, but not impossible.

Energy production must be made emissions-free. Energy production and the use of fossil fuels causes the majority of global emissions. In Finland, particular challenges include reducing the emissions from district heating in Helsinki and some other large cities and the discontinuation of the use of peat for energy. Energy production must transition towards renewable and low-emission energy sources. There is a lot of potential for increase in wind, solar and geothermal power in particular. The profitability of emissions-free and low-emission forms of energy production must be ensured through emissions-based taxation.

The energy system of the future is decentralised and smart. The production of renewable energy must be encouraged and supported more. Bioenergy is part of Finland’s energy portfolio, but the production of bioenergy must meet the sustainability criteria and be sustainable in the big picture.

Traffic and housing are significant sources of emissions, and they, too, must be decoupled from the use of fossil fuels. We must change our traffic system, reduce transport performance and replace fossil fuels with other motive powers. Different solutions for reducing emissions from traffic are needed in different parts of Finland, but the heavily populated urban regions play a key role in the transformation. When planning traffic solutions, regional differences must be taken into account, as the same solutions will not work in Kainuu and Kallio.

The volume of transport performances must be reduced through smart land use planning and use of remote connections. The use of public transport and pedestrian and bicycle traffic must be made possible in land use planning, especially in urban areas. The efficiency of traffic must be enhanced by investing in rail traffic and other forms of public transport. The number of journeys by foot or bicycle must be increased, especially in urban regions.

Passenger cars will be needed in the future as well, especially in rural areas. However, emissions from passenger cars can be cut by replacing fossil fuels with biogas and other sustainable biofuels, increasing the share of hybrid and electric vehicles and developing hydrogen technology. The efficiency of passenger car traffic can also be increased in urban areas in particular by increasing carpooling and carsharing. Digitisation is transforming all areas of life, and transport is no exception. Especially in densely populated urban areas, transport must be primarily viewed as a service, not from the point of view of ownership, going forward.

Flight passenger volumes are increasing strongly, and air travel by Finns has doubled over the last 20 years. The growth in air travel must be reversed, because its climate impacts cover 2–3 per cent of the direct carbon dioxide emissions caused by human activity. The emissions from air travel are largely luxury emissions, as the realisation of human rights or satisfaction of basic needs is the case in flying for only the few. In Finland, for example, the majority of travel by plane is for leisure trips. Aviation is also undertaxed relative to other forms of transport, and there is no room for freewheelers in the fight against climate change. Because air transport is global in principle, the solutions should also be made globally. However, if adequate global measures are not possible, air travel should be taxed at the EU level or nationally.

In addition to passenger traffic, attention must be paid to goods and cargo traffic. Cargo must increasingly be transported by rail, which requires investments in rail connections. The electrification of heavy goods vehicles is not realistic in the near future, but biogas is a potential means of reducing emissions from heavy goods traffic. Emissions from maritime transport must also be reduced, which requires tightening the international regulation. Emissions from cargo traffic can also be reduced by preferring locally produced commodities, thereby reducing the consumption of unnecessary goods and transporting them across the world.

Housing and the heating of homes consume a lot of energy. It is essential to make the electricity and district heat used in housing as low-emission as possible. Yet, also other changes are necessary. Emissions from construction have to be controlled by renovating the existing building stock instead of demolition and by accelerating the adoption of a tool for assessing the carbon footprint of construction. Emissions from construction must also be reduced through the recycling of materials.

Investments must be made in the energy efficiency of all buildings, and energy renovations need to be subsidised more. Energy renovations must be subsidised so that the cost/benefit ratio is positive, even for the individual resident. This way, the conditions of those with low incomes for housing are not threatened. The energy consumption of properties with direct electric heating can be cut with ground and air source heat pumps, for example. Oil heating should be abandoned in the 2030s and oil-fired boilers replaced with heat pumps or sustainably produced district heat. In old blocks of flats, it is possible to invest in heat recovery from exhaust air and energy-efficient windows and fit solar panels on the roof, for example.

Left Alliance’s goals:

  • Develop energy taxation in an increasingly emissions-guiding direction to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels. Prepare a target schedule for phasing out fossil fuels.
  • Arrange auctions for developing and supporting new forms of producing renewable energy. Allocate research and development funds to the development of energy efficiency and renewable energy systems.
  • Existing nuclear power plants and nuclear power plants under construction are part of the energy production portfolio, but no new major nuclear power projects are to be started. The development of small modular nuclear power plants is monitored and investigated. As a rule, new investments are made in renewable energy, and the ecological issues of the mining and final disposal of nuclear fuel must be acknowledged alongside the threats caused by climate change.
  • Promote the production of solar energy and other forms of renewable energy in public service buildings and commercial properties.
  • Enhance the investment support for renewable small-scale energy production and dismantle bureaucratic obstacles. Revise the legislation so that the batteries of electric vehicles can function as grid energy storage.
  • Strengthen the power transmission connections between Finland and the other Nordic countries.
  • Support low-income households in environmentally-friendly energy renovations, such as replacing oil-fired boilers with ground and air sourced heat pumps. Create a new household cost allowance supplementing the tax credit for household expenses, making work such as energy renovations subsidised with the tax credit also possible for those with low incomes.
  • Improve the energy efficiency and climate smartness of housing companies, housing cooperatives and detached homes with an investment grant for energy renovations. Alternatively, expand the tax credit for household expenses to also cover projects to improve the energy efficiency or use of renewable energy in housing companies and cooperatives.
  • Revise the taxation on real estate moderately to support sustainable construction and develop the legislation to take the life-cycle climate and environmental impacts of the building into account.
  • Coordinate the planning of traffic and land use better. Land use, housing and traffic-related matters have to be combined into a ministry of the built-up environment.
  • Develop the taxation on traffic based on emissions guidance, taking the needs of commercial transport and commuting into account. Strengthen the guiding effect of emissions taxation.
  • Continue the biogas conversion support and biogas vehicle grant and increase the incentives for building biogas filling stations.
  • Increase the public transport subsidy so that public transport will become a functional and attractive alternative to cars.
  • Invest in rails and rail connections. Additional investments are required both in basic maintenance and development projects. The functioning of railway yards, twin tracks and fast connections require long-term planning.
  • Tighten the emissions grading of taxation on cars.
  • Fixed-term subsidies aiming to transform the car fleet, such as scrapping premium or conversion grant, must be determined based on income. This will become possible with the new Income Register. The change would allocate the grants fairly and effectively.
  • Adopt an emissions-based flying tax on passenger and cargo transport, and promote an international aviation charge.
  • Revise the tax subsidies for traffic fuels gradually in a direction that supports sustainable transport.
  • Adopt congestion charges in the Helsinki metropolitan area. Commercial transport with emissions lower than the emission limits, electric vehicles and carpooling should be exempted from road tolls. The revenue from congestion charges should be used for developing public transport.
  • Support the building of gas and electric vehicle filling and charging network to cover the entire country.
  • Revise commute-related benefits, such as parking benefit, tax deduction for commuting expenses, kilometre allowances and tax benefits on company cars. Commuting by foot, bicycle and public transport, emissions-free passenger cars and carpooling should be supported. Take the needs of commercial transport into account in the reform.
  • Increase the share of pedestrian and bicycle traffic in the allocation of infrastructure investments.
  • Enact an emissions-based flying tax.
  • Support initiatives aiming to reduce emissions from international shipping.

5.3 Achieve growth in carbon sinks

In addition to reducing emissions, we must increase carbon sequestration and protect Earth’s carbon pools. Land use plays a crucial role in mitigating climate change. Clearing nature for people accelerates climate change, and careless land use is a factor causing climate change. We must pay particular attention to forests, farmland and wetlands.

Farmers and forest owners can be climate heroes. The development of farming methods can increase the carbon sequestration of farmland while improving crop certainty and profitability. Forest owners can increase carbon sequestration by growing forests to a higher age and adopting forest management methods that maximise the sequestration of carbon in trees and soil.

Finland is a forested and marshy land, so the use of forests and wetlands is a special issue for us. Forests also play a significant role in the economy and biodiversity, so we must align the economic and environmental needs for forest use.

The ways of using forests must be made carbon-smart and the volume of felling must be dimensioned so that carbon sinks and carbon pools increase both in the short and long term. It is essential to develop the added value of forest industry and ways of using wood so that our forests are made into products with the maximum added value in which carbon is secured for a long time and substitute fossil-based products with higher emissions. Forest growing methods must be researched more, in addition to which carbon forestry must be developed and the awareness of different climate impacts of forest use among forest owners must be increased.

Wetlands are enormous carbon pools. Clearing wetlands and burning peat destroy carbon pools and release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Clearing wetlands for fields causes a lot of emissions, so it must be discontinued. The energy use of peat must be reduced and completely discontinued in the 2030s. Increasing filling of failed forest ditches and rewetting of wetlands can have a positive impact on climate emissions from soil. OK

The planning and regulation of cities’ and municipalities’ land use and construction must be based on minimising carbon emissions and securing carbon sinks with plentiful green areas, trees and timber construction, among other means.

Left Alliance’s goals:

  • Increase the carbon pool in soil and forests by developing farming methods that increase the humus content of soil together with farmers and researchers.
  • Prohibit the clearing of new peatland fields. Make it possible for farmers to use manure for biogas instead of manure application.
  • Increase the budget reserved for rewetting wetlands and develop the Kemera subsidies to fill failed forest ditches.
  • Reduce the use of peat for energy through tax guidance with the aim of completely discontinuing energy use in the 2030s.
  • Create a peat industry transition programme to support regions affected by the discontinuation of peat use. The transition programme guarantees retraining, employment-promoting measures and energy supply of the areas.
  • Make sure that wood-based biofuel is sustainable. Stumps and green parts of trees, for example, must be left in the forest.
  • The volume of felling must be sustainable from the climate point of view both in the short and long term. The level of sustainable forest use must be determined based on the best available scientific expertise, because maintenance and thinning felling pursuant to the continuous cover forestry method increases the growth and carbon sinks of forests.
  • Support the reforestation of farm areas taken out of production and thickets to increase the carbon sink.
  • Create incentives for forest owners to grow forests to a higher age and increase carbon sequestration by creating a support model in which forest owners are annually compensated for sequestered carbon.
  • Prevent deforestation and increase forestation with economic incentives and sanctions.
  • Promote timber construction in public buildings.
  • Promote the use of green factor in building regulation.

5.4 Sustainable food system

Food plays a major role in everyone’s life. Food production is also significant from the point of view of climate and the environment. The production of food causes a large share of emissions, and it is also linked to biodiversity loss. Building a sustainable food system is an essential part of mitigating climate change.

Growth in meat production and consumption is an environmental problem that affects the entire world. More and more land has to be cleared for pasture and fodder increasingly produced for cattle. Adopting a more plant-based diet is essential in reducing the climate and environmental impacts of the food system. Also, favouring climate-smart varieties is important to minimise the climate impacts of food. It is up to households to adopt a climate-smart diet, but public authorities should favour ecological diets with recommendations, subsidies, mass catering and taxation.

Fish is often a healthy and climate-smart food, but a large share of the world’s fish stocks are threatened due to overfishing and pollution. Sustainably farmed fish is part of an environmentally-friendly food system, but modern fish farming also causes seas to become eutrophic.

Food loss is a major problem – the emissions from food that is thrown away were caused in vain. Food loss must be reduced in all parts of the food system: farms, logistics and industry, but also in retail, restaurants and homes.

The methods of food production also have impacts on biodiversity. In particular, abundant use of pesticides causes problems for environment balance, and monoculture-based intensive farming and land clearing impoverish the soil and environment. Food production should aim to decrease the use of harmful pesticides and favour cultivation practices that take biodiversity into consideration. Agricultural subsidies have to be developed so that they favour cultivation methods that support biodiversity, in addition to climate-smart food production.

A sustainable food system also guarantees that the producer receives fair compensation. The share of the price of foodstuffs that goes to the primary producer is unsustainable and farmers’ incomes are low. Agricultural subsidies must be allocated to active farmers and the market has to be developed in the direction of fairness.

The food system is also important to animal welfare.  Animal welfare is an end in itself and must be taken into account in legislation. The well-being of farmed animals must be improved by tightening the statutory requirements. Fur farming has to be run down in Finland in a controlled way, which requires developing a scheme for withdrawal for fur farmers.

The long, fast and refrigerated transports of many types of fruits and vegetables that are healthy as such and wintertime greenhouse production in Finland cause significant carbon emissions. Especially with regard to production in poorer countries, only a small fraction follows the principle of fair trade. Therefore, the recovery and use of Finnish roots, fruit and berries must be supported as part of building a sustainable food system.

Left Alliance’s goals:

  • Take either innovation or environmental points of view into account in all agricultural subsidies. Adapt the criteria for environmental compensation to have more impact and be clearer than now.
  • Amend the taxation on energy in agriculture to support the use of renewable energy, biogas in particular. Fix the energy tax rebate system that supports the use of fossil fuels.
  • Create a new impetus subsidy for transition to organic production while increasing guidance and cooperation between farms.
  • Base the taxation on foodstuffs on health and environmental impacts. For example, revising value added taxation makes it possible to encourage environmentally sustainable consumption and production.
  • Support the local nutrient cycle to keep nitrogen and phosphorus in food production instead of ending up in water systems causing eutrophication. A more effective nutrient cycle would also improve Finland’s self-sufficiency and trade balance.
  • Prepare a national food programme that is sustainable ecologically, ethically and in terms of public health. Favour plant-based local and organic food and fair trade products in public procurement and mass catering. Increase climate-smart diet counselling and increase the research, development and innovation funding for Finnish plant-based products.
  • Allocate agricultural subsidies to active farmers, support the coping of farmers and promote fair market practices.
  • Prevent overfishing in Finland and the EU by setting the fishing quotas to a sustainable level.
  • Aim to increase the Baltic herring stock of Finland’s adjacent waters and the Baltic Sea on the whole by temporarily reducing the volume of fishing by decreasing the fishing of Baltic herring for fodder by way of restrictions or taxes.
  • Obligate restaurants and shops to distribute their food waste to others.
  • Revise the Animal Welfare Act so that movement-preventing structures, such as farrowing crates and stanchion-tied stables are prohibited following a transition period.
  • Prepare a national plan and schedule for ending fur farming, including a withdrawal scheme for fur farmers.
  • Reduce the use of pesticides that cause pollinator decline through guidance and obligations.

5.5 Diverse and clean nature

In addition to mitigating climate change, we must stop biodiversity loss. Species loss and destruction of wildlife habitats have accelerated to an unforeseen scale. This in spite of humans being fully dependent on nature and the ecosystem services it provides.

Biodiversity loss must also be stopped in Finland. Forestry and agriculture must be made sustainable in terms of biodiversity, and the number of conservation areas has to be increased. Hunting must be dimensioned so that it does not jeopardise the sustainability of populations. The number of conservation areas must be increased and increasing biodiversity also has to be taken into account in productive wooded areas, farmland and urban areas.

In addition to unsustainable land use and exploitation of stocks, also the pollution of wildlife habitats is a threat to biodiversity. Eutrophication of seas, dispersion of chemicals into the environment and the increase in plastic waste are global problems and the consequence of our unsustainable economic and consumption model. Pollution must be prevented more strictly with legislation.

Currently, the use of virgin raw materials is often more affordable than recycling and reusing old ones. An adequate price must be set for the use of virgin and finite raw materials, and the environmental regulation of mines has to be tightened. The Mining Act has to be revised so that the decision on establishing mines is included in the scope of local democratic decision-making, society receives fair compensation from the profits of the companies and environmental aspects are taken better into account.

Left Alliance’s goals:

  • Improve the vitality of migratory fish stocks by enhancing the implementation of the fishway strategy and updating the fishery requirements for hydropower companies. Set fishing quotas at a level that is sustainable from the point of view of fish stocks.
  • Support the local nutrient cycle to keep nitrogen and phosphorus in food production instead of ending up in water systems causing eutrophication.
  • Promote fish stock growth and biodiversity in coastal waters.
  • Increase the protection rate of forests in Southern Finland to 10 per cent and secure sufficient funding for protection efforts. Update and implement the wetlands protection programme.
  • Keep forest felling stocks such that maintaining biodiversity and other forms of forest use are possible. Increase the use of continuous cover forestry in productive wooded areas. Reform forestry subsidies so that they encourage diverse forestry methods.
  • Take the improvement of biodiversity into account in the reform of the Land Use and Building Act.
  • Establish new national parks and support cities in increasing the biodiversity of green areas. Secure the operating prerequisites of environmental administration and sufficient resources with a separate authority tasked with supervising the public environmental interest.
  • Prohibit unnecessary plastic products and enact an EU-wide plastic tax that is high enough to eliminate unnecessary use of single-use plastic.
  • Tighten the recycling obligations of the Waste Act.
  • Revise the Mining Act sustainably so that non-renewable underground natural resources belong to society as a rule going forward. Secure a fairer distribution of the economic benefits by way of a royalty tax, for example.
  • When granting mining permits, conduct a comprehensive assessment that also considers the impacts of mining activity on local communities and environment. Municipalities must have the right to prevent mines from being established in their area, even if exploration permits had been granted. Prohibit exploration in nature conservation areas.
  • Enhance the protection of endangered species, such as the Saimaa Ringed Seal.

6. Skilled, thinking and creative people

The purpose of the leftist educational policy is to raise skilled and thinking people who are aware of their rights and obligations. Education strengthens understanding of the world and the ability to build one’s own life and society, as well as take part in working life. Education must be equally available to everyone, regardless of family background, income and wealth. Educational equality and quality of education have suffered setbacks in recent years due to massive cuts in education. The Left Alliance does not want to leave education debt to our children; it is necessary to invest in education at all levels.

Early childhood education lets children develop their basic communality and learning skills. Primary school pupils, on the other hand, lay the foundation for their own thinking and social activity. Secondary students build the foundation for their professional and general education. In higher education, students work on their research-based expertise that develops throughout life with work and life experience. Non-formal education allows people to study informally throughout life. Besides knowledge and skills, active citizenship and participation are taught, equality between people and respect for environment is emphasised and critically thinking individuals are raised. Learning does not end with or be limited to the education path from early childhood education to university; life is about continuous learning. Lifelong learning must also be made possible to all people in different situations in life.

The objective of the leftist science policy is to increase people’s understanding of the world and themselves and use knowledge for the benefit of humankind and building a sustainable society.  Science is also an essential factor from the point of view of socially and ecologically successful economic development and promoting employment in a time that relies on technology and expertise. Science must be independent and sufficiently resourced.

Culture and sports are an important part of human life. They reflect humanity, comment on society and build well-being. The starting point of leftist sports and culture policy is that everyone has the right to express themselves, and people’s equal leisure opportunities should be supported.

6.1 Lifelong learning

High-quality paedagogic early childhood education benefits all children. Research has shown that early childhood education narrows the gap caused by socioeconomic background. High-quality early childhood education supports subsequent learning and building opportunities in life. It is the strong view of the Left that high-quality early childhood education belongs to everyone. Our goal is to increase the rate of attending early childhood education.

The Finnish education system and primary education must be strengthened so that adequate basic knowledge and skills can be guaranteed to all young people and everyone has sufficient resources for transitioning to secondary studies.  A more equal education requires strengthening the resources of primary education and reforming compulsory education.

All young people must obtain a post-primary school secondary degree, and vocational secondary education and upper secondary schools must provide everyone with sufficient general education and capacities for working life. Promoting the eligibility for further studies at all educational levels offers everyone equal opportunities for lifelong learning, regardless of their educational path. While the methods and content of education are developed, it is necessary to see to the sufficient amount of in situ education and young people’s capability of coping with their studies, as well as the well-being of young people.

Securing the core funding for universities plays a key role in high-quality and independent science and research and education experts to meet the needs of working life. Finland subsists on expertise, so investing in higher education, science and innovation is also economically important.

Supplementing one’s expertise or studying a new profession in the middle of one’s working career will be significantly more common in the future, and society should also encourage it. Therefore, we need an education system that can offer degrees, parts of degrees and individual skills to anyone in all situations in life. Lifelong learning also must be possible for everyone. The development of the models and opportunities for lifelong learning is an urgent question in education policy.

Left Alliance’s goals:

  • Restore the subjective right to full-time day care.
  • Reduce the group sizes of day care centres in both full-time and part-time groups.
  • In the Early Childhood Education and Care Act, specify more detailed boundary conditions for deviating from the group size ratios in early childhood education.
  • Specify special support and its goals in more detail in the Early Childhood Education and Care Act. Increase the volume of shift daycare.
  • Specify a binding national requirement for the number of school psychologists and counselors and expand it to also apply to early childhood education in the Early Childhood Education and Care Act.
  • Implement a binding two-year pre-school for those aged 5–6.
  • Develop flexible preprimary and primary education nationally for those aged 5–8.
  • Prepare a plan extending across parliamentary terms to fully migrate to free early childhood education.
  • Prohibit profit-making in early childhood education, similarly as to how profit-making is prohibited in primary education.
  • Obligate municipalities to arrange appropriate morning and afternoon activities for 1st–4th graders to prevent segregation. Develop all-day school models in which hobbies are included as part of the school day.
  • Decrease the group sizes in primary schools and set statutory maximum group sizes.
  • When applying the principle of inclusion in primary education, sufficient resourcing and support must be guaranteed to each pupil in general education who needs special support.
  • Religious and secular ethics education is developed to better take non-belief and pupils belonging to religious communities other than the Evangelical Lutheran Church into account. Each pupil is given an opportunity to choose secular ethics education, regardless of their or their custodians’ religious community. The aim is to abandon separated religious and secular ethics education and orientate towards a new subject based on current secular ethics education.
  • In order to promote a 12-year primary education system, compulsory education is extended to secondary education so that students’ regional and social equality is realised as required by the Constitution with regard to access to education, building one’s study path and establishment of eligibility for further studies.
  • More resources are promptly allocated to in situ vocational education and preparation of personal curricula by increasing the basic funding. High-quality personal guidance must be guaranteed for on-the-job learning by training workplace instructors, for example.
  • Reduce the emphasis of the matriculation examination in student choices: To replace the matriculation examination, develop a series of scientific, artistic and technical matriculation theses, which comprise the students’ own study portfolio to support their transition to follow-up studies or working life in cooperation with universities and facilitate diverse routes to university.
  • Develop cooperation between upper secondary schools and vocational institutions by offering students more joint courses and options for more individual degrees.
  • Guarantee access to special education at all levels from early childhood education to adult education.
  • Secure the regional coverage of secondary education and university of applied sciences education. The funding of learning environments in vocational education is realised so as to ensure the implementation of education requiring lots of hardware, for example, across Finland.
  • Ensure the right of immigrants to adequate high-quality preparatory education and Finnish and/or Swedish as a second language education.
  • Take gender sensitivity into account at all levels of education from early childhood education to universities. Increase and improve sex education pursuant to age level at all levels of educations and narrow down the learning differences between genders.
  • Improve the availability of pupil and student welfare services and expand multidisciplinary student welfare into early childhood education by enacting a statutory obligations for municipalities to hire early childhood education psychologists and counsellors.
  • Invest in the prevention of bullying nationwide. Supervisors and teachers must have adequate time and knowledge for addressing bullying and sexual harassment.
  • Set the objective of increasing research, development and innovation (RDI) funding towards a 5% share of GDP.
  • Increase the number of places available at higher education institutions so that the aim is for one-half of the age group completes a university degree, and secure sufficient resources for ensuring high-quality teaching and guidance.
  • Make the transitions between levels of education with e.g. free open university studies that give the option of applying to become a degree student.
  • Revise the Universities Act to strengthen the internal work atmosphere of higher education institutions and to restore collegial decision-making and democracy in universities.
  • Strengthen the core funding of higher education institutions. Develop funding models in a way that strengthens the autonomy of science. Revise research funding and the strategic funding of higher education institutions so that the system is simpler and more transparent and efficient.
  • Dispose of tuition fees for university students from outside the EU and EEA.
  • Implement an education equality plan covering the entire educational pathway, paying particular attention to the access of underrepresented groups to higher education.
  • Develop models of lifelong learning at all levels of the educational system in cooperation with education providers and employers. Create a system for funding lifelong learning, with society, employer and individuals taking part in it.
  • Open up the supply of education at higher education institutions to facilitate lifelong learning in cooperation with higher education institutions through online platforms and digital online and other open courses.
  • Increase adult education and vocational training aimed at employment. Develop conversion courses that support the development of both individuals and the economic structure.
  • Guarantee all unemployed job-seekers the right to informal studying and make studying for a degree during unemployment more flexible.
  • Better utilise the opportunities of informal adult education in facilitating lifelong learning and disseminating new social skills. Provide better resources to informal adult education.
  • The position of the Karelian language alongside other minority languages must be recognised and safeguarded through legislation. In addition, a language revitalisation programme must be launched.
  • Ensure healthy and safe spaces for learning.

6.2 Culture and sports for all

A diverse art and cultural life and active civic society are a basic prerequisite for a functional democracy and are part of civilised society. Art and culture are basic needs of human life and social interaction, and they should be fundamental rights of people. The significance of culture is also emphasised when society must seek sources of well-being and employment elsewhere than continuously growing material consumption.

The Left considers that the possibility to enjoy culture and develop one’s own creative talents and self-expression skills is a right belonging to all. The position of art education in primary school should be strengthened. Engaging in art and culture must be possible regardless of place of residence, wealth, age and background. Public spaces should be available to use by citizens free of charge. Art and culture should increasingly be brought where people live and are. Artists’ livelihoods must be secured.

Public libraries play an important role in maintaining democracy and strengthening communality. Libraries offer their materials, premises and services to everyone, promoting the civil society, equality and equal right to information and cultural content. The Left considers that the position of libraries as a low-threshold institution of culture and education must be strengthened and defended further. A free library institution that is available and accessible to all must be maintained across Finland going forward as well, taking both rural areas and growth centres into consideration.

Organised sports culture and competitive sports are living in a time of transformation. The requirements for sports club activities are increasing, while global responsibility is called for in competitive sports.

The costs of organised sports activities for children and young people have become so high in many sports that they are an obstacle for many. All sectors of administration should increase efforts that can lower the costs of children’s and young people’s hobbies. Children’s hobby expenses are included in municipalities’ discretionary income support, and the guidelines on supporting hobby fees vary by municipality. In order to make equality come true, the practices must be the same across the country.

Club activities are the heart of civic commitment in sports. Sports clubs are required to offer professional coaching and guidance on the one hand and offer it free on the other. This equation is too difficult for many clubs operating based on volunteer work. The prerequisites for non-profit civic commitment should be supported more strongly.

The position of women and minorities in physical exercise and sports must be recognised and their numbers among enthusiasts, coaches and decision-makers must be improved.

In accordance with the Act on the Promotion of Sports and Physical Activity, the ways in which the association promotes equality and nondiscrimination are considered in assessing the amount of state aid. This policy set in the Act on the Promotion of Sports and Physical Activity must be supervised systematically and neglecting it can reduce state aid.

Physical passivity is part of our day-to-day lives, and therefore also physical activity must be. Physical activity should be increased in all sectors of administration. People’s possibilities of being physically active in their day-to-day lives must be improved as part of urban and environmental planning by e.g. ensuring functional and safe routes for pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

Left Alliance’s goals:

  • Strengthen the independent art field by increasing the number and amount of art scholarships. Develop the unemployment and pension security of artists to better match the security provided to other workers.
  • Allocate sufficient budgets to the implementation of the general transfer reform of art institutions.
  • Make it easier for new artistic fields to gain access to aid.
  • Enact the Percent for Art Principle in the law and also expand it into social and healthcare services.
  • Strengthen the funding for primary art education and improve its economic and regional availability.
  • Develop the task of libraries as an extensive centre of knowledge, sharing economy and social encounter.
  • Strengthen the role of libraries as promoters of versatile literacy, reading and literature and supporters of information procurement.
  • Develop the role of libraries as facilitators of free secondary education and supporters of prolonging compulsory education.
  • Guarantee the availability of library services in rural areas as well through e.g. library buses offering extensive services.
  • Make sure that high-quality higher librarian education is available
  • Acknowledge that in addition to self-service libraries and opening hours, also a lot of trained staff is needed to offer professional service.
  • Offer municipalities’ premises to non-profit organisations and associations that offer leisure activities for use free of charge.
  • Cross-administrativeness and day-to-day physical activity and cross-sectoral work to promote physical activity need to be increased further.
  • Create incentives for taking those with impaired functional capacity and special/underrepresented groups into account as part of public leisure services and culture.
  • Municipalities should prepare officially approved allocation principles for the use of sports facilities
  • Municipalities offer basic sports facilities free of charge, especially for children’s and young people’s physical activity
  • Expand the Schools on the Move operating model to the nationwide scale, covering all levels of education from early childhood education to higher education institutions. The aim is for the school day to include physical activity at all levels of education.
  • Secure the prerequisites of sports clubs for producing high-quality physical and sports activity.
  • Allocate state and municipal aid increasingly to supporting physical activity among children and young people in a way that allows everyone to take part, regardless of wealth, target-orientation and skill.
  • The use of sports facilities should be facilitated in the afternoons, evenings and weekends, all year round.
  • Take culture and sports to housing units, give discounts to municipal sports services and secure the accessibility of services.
  • Offer the long-term unemployed in municipalities culture vouchers to increase accessibility. 

7. Health and well-being

It is the mainstay of the welfare state that everyone gets help when needed and everyone gets treatment in case of illness. The Left Alliance’s strong will is to reinforce the idea of universalism, which underlies the welfare state. This means that everyone, regardless of their income and background, is included in the scope of the same services and benefit systems and that services are jointly funded through taxes. In a welfare state, a person’s own resources are supported and strengthened, and problems are prevented by investing in people’s well-being and functional capacity in advance.

During recent decades, society’s safety nets and public services have been weakened, cut and privatised to achieve savings and as the result of ideological pressure. Our service system has become segregated, and universalism is no longer genuine.

The increase in inequality can be seen in the form of accumulated problems as well as cross-generational poverty and social problems. Finnish inequality should not only be assessed based on income or wealth disparities or education; segregation is also seen as exceptionally high health disparity in Finland. Those with low incomes are more affected by disease and wait for unreasonable periods to get service. The wealthy use tax-subsidised private services, spend less time ill and live longer. Health disparity can be seen already at an early age in children’s and young people’s lifestyles and health behaviour.

Social and healthcare services should narrow down health disparities, increase well-being, prevent illness, support functional capacity and coping in day-to-day life and secure livelihoods. Social and health disparities can be narrowed down by addressing the reasons for their inequality.  Reducing poverty, unemployment and income disparity and improving people’s education levels and society’s service system are the best ways to also prevent social and health disparity.

The segregation of social and healthcare services into increasingly poorly funded public services and private services used by the well-off must be stopped and reversed. Privatising and incorporating social and healthcare service production must be stopped and the public service system must be strengthened and resourced better. Private social and healthcare services produced using public funds must not seek economic profit.

Prevention of disease and problems, customer orientation, equality, seamlessness and supporting people’s own resources must be adopted as the ideology guiding the service system. People and their lives make up the big picture in which health is linked to social situation and living environment and the other way around. Therefore, also social and healthcare services must aim to encounter and help people holistically, and if necessary, multi-disciplinarily. The service system must support people in different situations in life, and client fees and bureaucracy must not become an obstacle to seeking care and support.

7.1 Better social and healthcare services

It is the strong will of the Left Alliance to narrow down health and well-being disparity. The inequality of Finnish health care is particularly well evident in that those covered by occupational healthcare and private insurance have the best access to care, and correspondingly those with low incomes covered by public services have the least access. At the same time, client fees are emphasised among the lowest income deciles.

High client fees result in an increasing barrier for those with low incomes to seek care. Client fees in social and healthcare services should be lowered so as to not prevent their use. The Act on Client Charges in Healthcare and Social Welfare should be revised so as to lower the client fees and co-payments in order to improve those with low incomes access to care. Health centre fees should be removed altogether, and the medicine reimbursement scheme should be revised so that the cost burden on those with frequent ailments in particular is eased.

Making it faster for those who need care the most to access care with the maximum cost-efficiency is best achieved when we allocate resources to primary health care. With ailments managed without delay and preventively, also less tax money will be spent on corrective services, anxiety, incapacity for work and bureaucracy. The care guarantee for non-urgent care in primary health care must be tightened, and the availability of low-threshold mental health services must also be improved. In non-urgent cases, a physician’s appointment should not be waited for for more than a week. Future social and healthcare centres have to make use of multi-disciplinary expertise, nurse and public health nurse appointments, physical therapists’ direct appointments, midwives’ appointments, especially in conjunction with preventive healthcare for woman and child health services.

Social work supports, helps and fixes when preventive measures have failed. Social work must be strengthened and incorporated into the rest of the health and well-being service system. Social work must encounter the person as a whole and support coping with day-to-day life. It must be possible to see a social worker or advisor quickly, and social care services must be offered to the client with a low threshold without client fees.  Social work expertise must be a fixed part of the social and health care centres of the future, and the information generated by social work must be utilised when solving social problems.

Left Alliance’s goals:

  • Shorten the care guarantee for non-urgent primary care to one week.
  • Remove health centre fees across the country.
  • Revise the Act on Client Charges in Healthcare and Social Welfare. Migrate to a single unified annual maximum limit on out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs, client fees and health care-related travel costs and decrease it to EUR 600 per year. However, also keep individual maximum limits, as some people can also only exceed one of the maximum limits on out-of-pocket costs. Keep the maximum limit on travel at the current level of EUR 300.
  • Make it more common not to charge fees by municipalities’ decisions and, if necessary, tighten the legislation to prevent social and health centre fees ending up in distraint proceedings. Instructions on how to be relieved of the fees must be available on each municipality’s website.
  • Increase the reimbursement of medicines to relieve the expenses of the chronically ill and those who need lots of medicines. Remove the initial deductible limit on medicines.
  • Increase mental health and substance abuse services and invest in preventive mental health and substance abuse work. The treatment of people with both substance abuse and mental health issues must be provided at a single location, and problems with substance abuse must not be an obstacle to mental health services.
  • Customers and employees providing local services are heard in developing well-being services.
  • The starting point of alcohol and narcotics policy must be to reduce adverse effects from substance abuse, destigmatising people with substance abuse issues and lowering the threshold of seeking substance abuse treatment.
  • Offer appropriate treatment also to people with gambling problems and other addictions.
  • Transfer gambling machines from shops, restaurants and other similar places to dedicated gambling venues.
  • Help for mental health issues must be available without delay. Enact a therapy guarantee. In an urgent situation, care need assessment must be available within 24 hours. Extend the one-week care guarantee to also cover mental health services in primary care. Low-threshold counseling must be available in primary health care quickly without a referral and diagnosis hassle. Improve the cooperation between hospitals and outpatient care and secure the continuity of care. Increase the resources of psychiatric outpatient care so that the care commenced at the hospital also continues after discharge without interruptions.
  • Improve the availability of both short- and long-term psychotherapy by increasing the supply of psychotherapy as a public-sector service. Harmonise and relieve the criteria for access to care by making it possible to get psychotherapy also on grounds other than to restore and maintain capacity for work. Increase the education of psychotherapists and include it in the scope of public funding.
  • Revise the Act on the Status and Rights of Patients to improve patients’ possibilities of taking part in making decisions on their own care and ensure the supervision of the patient’s interests in investigating malpractice and reimbursement decisions. The patient and social ombudsman system must be made independent of the providers.
  • Guarantee persons who are not covered by student and occupational health care services and need a lot of help the right to regular free health check-ups. In case of lowered capacity for work, secure unemployed persons’ opportunities for rehabilitation.
  • Provide social workers with sufficient time to put their minds to the customer’s situation and support them through diverse interactive and social counseling methods. It should be possible to get to see a social worker or advisor in a week.
  • Enact maximum numbers of customers for social workers to guarantee the quality of social work, initially in child welfare services.
  • Ensure the right of “paperless immigrants” to essential care.
  • Guarantee a statutory right to free contraception for those aged under 25 throughout the country.
  • The profits of publicly funded private social and health service companies must be limited by legislation.
  • Prepare a suicide prevention programme and allocate resources to its measures. Particular attention is to be paid to men’s suicide susceptibility exceeding that of women and to regional differences in suicide.
  • Guarantee sufficient resources for childbirth operations and guarantee the continuation of deliveries in the current units in rural areas.
  • Repair schools, day care centres, hospitals and other public buildings with indoor air problems. Improve the care given to persons with indoor air-induced disorders.
  • Revoke the government decree according to which a hospital managing childbirths must manage a minimum of 1,000 deliveries per year, and allow hospitals, and counties once the social and health care reform is implemented, to decide on the organisation of childbirth services.

7.2 Fix the structures of social and health services

A structural reform of social and health care services is necessary to improve the availability of care, invest in preventive services and narrow down health disparity. The reform is also needed to increase the smoothness and cost efficiency of the service system and care pathways. There are major regional differences in the availability and quality of services, so the social and health care reform must be implemented immediately, regardless of the other decisions on the administration of counties. Disputes over regional borders and tasks must not be an obstacle, nor pawns in a power game.

The possibility of small municipalities in particular to take care of social and health care services has decreased with the ageing population and continued urbanisation. In large cities, the division of responsibility for providing services between cities and hospital districts causes sub-optimisation and discontinuity in service chains, which is evident in the continuous underresourcing of health centres and preventive work and making patients bounce between queues and professionals. Therefore, the responsibility for the service chain on the whole must be transferred to a single autonomous party. An elected county administration is responsible for services and replaces the current indirect levels of regional administration.

In the new state, autonomous counties provide statutory social and health care services.  Counties are responsible for providing services, and if necessary, services can be supplemented by procuring them from other providers, such as businesses and NGOs. This must be implemented in such a way that the equality of residents and quality of services are not jeopardised. Municipalities provide services that promote the health and well-being of their residents.

In addition to integrating primary and specialised medical care, better integration between social and health services is needed. Electronic medical record systems and the funding of social and health care must be integrated as well. In order for the integration to happen, it is necessary to move towards single-channel funding. Single-channel funding facilitates better control of health and social care costs and planning on the whole. Above all, the integration must take place at the level of practical work, to manage the situation of a person with high service needs as a whole instead of having to stop at several service points.

Left Alliance’s goals:

  • Transfer the organisation and provision of social and health care and emergency services to autonomous counties. Hospital districts and joint municipal authorities for primary care and emergency services can be closed down at the same time.
  • Directly elect county officials to secure the genuine autonomy and democracy of regional administration.
  • Instead of municipalities being responsible for funding social and health care, make the state responsible. Autonomous counties are provided with an opportunity to supplement their services through their enacted county taxation. Also the general transfer share of the funding of key reimbursements of medical expenses, such as sick leave allowances, reimbursements of medicines and travel expenses, has to be transferred to counties with the social and health care reform, even if Kela was still responsible for the execution of their remittance.
  • Provide counties with the right to collect taxes, which is supplemented with a general transfer evening out regional differences. Municipal tax will decrease when the responsibility for providing social and health care services and funding them is transferred from municipalities to counties.
  • Provide services primarily publicly; other service providers supplement the services. Secure the prerequisites of the third sector for providing services. Tighten the legislation restricting the outsourcing of social and health services.
  • Secure functional social and health care centres in municipalities also in the future, with comprehensive local services for the residents.
  • Harmonise the information systems of social and health care, ensure data mobility and stop wasting money on systems that do not work.
  • Transfer the overall responsibility for funding social and health services to counties. Also the general transfer share of the funding of key reimbursements of medical expenses, such as sick leave allowances, reimbursements of medicines and travel expenses, has to be transferred to counties with the social and health care reform, even if Kela was still responsible for the execution of their remittance.
  • Social and health services are centralised in the same units so that diverse social and health care professionals work in close cooperation and the client’s situation is managed as a whole. Expertise in both health care and social work must be equally represented in managing integrated services.

7.3 Lifelong support

The welfare state must take care of people in all stages of life. Society’s support and assistance is usually needed the most in the early and final phases of life; childhood and old age. Diverse services can also be needed on a permanent basis due to disability or chronic disease. The welfare state must guarantee the necessary services in different stages of life, emphasising supporting functional capacity and people’s own resources and the realisation of autonomy. The work of family caregivers significantly supplements public social and health services, and therefore family caregivers’ work must be secured.

Finns are ageing at a rapid rate. Senior citizens are a major social asset, but ageing also challenges social structures and services. Society on the whole must be made age-friendly, and the well-being and coping of the aged must be supported in all areas of society.

Unfortunately, also senior citizens, the chronically ill, homeless and people with disabilities are in an unequal position in society. Senior citizens with low incomes and belonging to language and cultural minorities, people with substance abuse and mental health issues, the homeless and disabled who do not have family members taking care of them and supporting their day-to-day lives are in the weakest position. In the welfare state, a humane and safe old age must be safeguarded for all. Everyone must have the right and possibility to age without fear of loneliness, coping and care.

Poverty in families with children has increased in recent years. Problems also accumulate, and deprivation has increasingly become an inter-generational issue. In supporting families with children, besides securing work and livelihood, access to preventive low-threshold services is essential. A little support when problems emerge can save from them accumulating and needing corrective measures later. In addition to preventive family work, attention must be paid to the livelihood of families and equal leisure opportunities of children. The models of youth work and services for the young must be developed so as to strengthen the involvement and coping of the young. The service system must encounter the young on the whole through seamless and multidisciplinary services.

Disability affects many Finns, either throughout their lives or during some part of it. Finland must be made into an equal and accessible country in which people with disabilities can lead good and balanced lives. Society’s accessibility provides everyone with added value, and it benefits those with disabilities, but also senior citizens and families with children, among others. Accessibility is not only about slopes and lifts. It is, among other things, clarity in communication, induction loops and opportunities for people with disabilities to move and live as independently as possible.

Autonomy should be set as the starting point in all disability policy. A person with disabilities must be able to choose how, where and with whom they live, start a family, move, go to work, study, engage in leisure activities or take part in social organisation.

Left Alliance’s goals:

  • Enact a statutory nurse ratio of 0.7 in 24-hour care for the elderly that must be met. Also, improve the quality and staffing requirements of home care. Take acuity into account as a factor that increases the staffing requirement. Supervise the fulfilment of staffing requirements and care better.
  • Commission senior clinics to which those aged over 65 are regularly invited to well-being check-ups, counseling and service guidance.
  • In the reform of the Act on Client Charges in Healthcare and Social Welfare, enact clearer and more reasonable payment criteria and maximum limits for intensive sheltered housing, housing units, family caregiving and home care.
  • When offering publicly funded private services with a service voucher, the Act on Client Charges in Healthcare and Social Welfare must be followed in client fees.
  • In revising the Act on Client Charges in Healthcare and Social Welfare, the disposable credit of clients in care services has to be harmonised and increased.
  • Lower the value added tax on feminine hygiene products, such as sanitary towels, tampons and incontinence pads, from 24 per cent to 10 per cent or abolish their taxes altogether. Guarantee free sanitary towels and incontinence pads to homeless women.
  • Adequate pain management is a human right. Those suffering from pain must receive the pain management they need.
  • Revise the Act on Care Services for Older Persons and tighten the supervision of municipalities and future counties in compliance with it, especially with regard to preparing and following care plans.
  • Hire enough skilled staff for work with the aged and see to their training.  Increase expertise in geriatric and psychogeriatric care.
  • Increase the possibilities of co-housing as an option between living alone at home and intensive sheltered housing. Senior citizens and others who need a lot of support have access to sheltered co-housing if they wish and they are not forced to stay at home alone.
  • Guarantee need-based disability services, regardless of the person’s age. Reimburse people with disabilities for the expenses of procuring, maintaining and servicing assistive devices needed in day-to-day life in full.
  • Discontinue competitive bidding on lifelong and absolutely necessary services for people with disabilities.
  • See to the sufficiency of interpreter services, transport services and personal assistance for everyone who needs it.
  • Ensure the support needed by a person with disabilities in early childhood education, schooling and studies. Plan special support individually for everyone who needs it. Understand that placing in a general education group is not the only option.
  • Make family caregiver’s allowance adequate and see to the coping of family caregivers. Arrange a safe place of care for family caregivers’ care recipients for the duration of statutory days off.
  • Prepare nationwide criteria for family caregiver’s allowance and holidays and transfer the remittance of family caregiver’s allowance to Kela.
  • Guarantee an equal right to family caregiver’s allowance and other statutory family caregiving benefits and services to also family members of people with mental health disorders and all other groups of family members.
  • Make sure that the state guarantees municipalities sufficient resources for implementing family work, child clinic work, school health care, youth work and other early support and preventive social work.
  • Enact a maximum number of customers for each child welfare services social worker.
  • Make sure that child welfare services respond to the individual needs of the child and families in time. Safeguard temporary care solutions for people cared for by family caregivers and single parents’ children. Adopt social work and family services models aiming at the prevention of problems in all municipalities.
  • Develop the operation of central units covering diverse youth services and secure the resources of outreach youth work. In order to guarantee the continuity of the operations and coordination of the central units, ensure their funding from the state budget.
  • Increase or start municipal outreach work with the aged, outreach mental health and substance abuse work and outreach disability work in addition to outreach youth work. Guarantee adequate resources for the forms of low-threshold help.
  • Increase the maintenance allowance. The remote parent should have more economic and care responsibility.
  • Increase home help for families with children.
  • Develop ways of making it easier for single parents to combine work and family life.

8. A world of peace and cooperation

International cooperation is needed to resolve the big problems of the world. Wars, climate change, increase in the power of mega-corporations, accumulation of wealth, pollution of the seas, terrorism and complicated conflicts, dangerous growth in the tension between the superpowers and involuntary migration can only be solved in cooperation between countries and people. The leftist view of the world also includes acknowledging that human rights belong equally to all of the world’s people. We do not want to build borders and distrust between people, but to bring them down.

The world is smaller than ever before in many ways. With the development of media and the internet, people can be in touch with each other and know what is going on in the world. On the other hand, also fake news, terrorism and propaganda spread effectively from one country to another. The global economy has made countries and people increasingly dependent on each other. We can travel and enjoy commodities produced in various countries, but diseases and economic uncertainties also spread quickly.

Even though extreme poverty has decreased globally and more children around the world can go to school than before, the international community is facing enormous challenges.  As the result of diverse conflicts and disasters, there are more refugees than ever during World War Two in the world, population growth is presenting a challenge to sustainable development, and climate change is threatening to take away the prerequisites for life, especially from the world’s poor.

The European Union is a key benchmark group for Finland. By influencing the EU, we can influence the direction of both Finland and the entire international community. Instead of a never-ending emphasis on market liberties, the EU must focus on resolving the major trans-national problems of our time and promoting the well-being of people.

The Left considers that in the current world situation, instead of accelerating armament, what we need is peace initiatives and reducing confrontation, increasing international cooperation and dialogue, respect for human rights, investments in education and binding agreements to protect the environment.

8.1 Finland builds peace

The view of the Left Alliance is that Finland builds peace and international security the best by active and initiative-having foreign policy in which the UN plays a key role. As a militarily non-aligned state, Finland emphasises broad-based cooperation, development of economic relations and means of action of the civil society.

The best peace work is removing inequality and promoting sustainable development. Finland must support the UN-based system and international legal system depending on it. Instead of national states turning upon themselves, we need to strengthen open international communities. We need disarmament and peaceful prevention of conflicts.

From the point of view of Finland’s security, the most important international community is the European Union. By promoting peace, the EU also strengthens Finland’s security. However, the EU must not be used as a tool of power politics or sphere of influence mindset. The EU’s obligations of mutual responsibility and assistance should not be misused, and Finland must always decide on the form of assistance itself.

The basis of Finland’s foreign policy is to promote human rights, equality and stability globally. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development must guide all of Finland’s external activities. In order for Finland to be a credible actor in international forums, respect for human rights and international law must be consistent in all of Finland’s trade policy as well. In a time of increasing global political tensions and the arms race is on the rise, it is more important than ever that states such as Finland bring up human rights in the focus of international cooperation. The cultural autonomy of Sámi is strengthened by ratifying the ILO169 convention. Moreover, the act on the Sámi Parliament is to be revised in cooperation with the Sámi Parliament.

The Nordic countries are a central benchmark group for Finland. Diverse cooperation between the Nordic countries provides Finland with security, especially with there being no certainty of the direction of the European Union’s development. The Nordic countries have long understood that peace is promoted through an equal society and active initiative-having international cooperation. Nordic economic and security cooperation must be increased. However, this must not be used as a way to Finland’s NATO membership. Finland makes its own foreign and security policy decisions independently.

Finland should not join NATO. NATO membership would weaken Finland’s stable security environment. Finland must strengthen the cooperation with Sweden to promote its military non-alignment policy and international peace policy. Finland must be active and have initiative to strengthen the UN and OSCE peace and security structures.

Aggression by the superpowers and their supporters and their breaches of international law from Ukraine to the Middle East and from East Asia to Latin America cannot be accepted. Even though aggression and crises would not directly threaten Finland’s security, every breach of international law and related act of war taking place nearby or farther away does not only cause suffering in the crisis area, but also weakening of agreement-based international cooperation. At worst, it increases the threat of nuclear war further. Therefore, Finland should support an end to aggression and compliance with international law in Ukraine, the Middle East and everywhere on Earth. Finland must support a sustainable peace in Ukraine, both as part of the EU and by itself.

The basic reasons of security cannot be addressed militarily – injustice in Finland or elsewhere cannot be ended with weapons. Security, and the credibility of defence, is increased by seeing to the democratic structures of society and an equal society with perceived inclusion.

The Finnish Defence Forces and their procurement are restricted by the same economic realities as other areas of policy. The Left Alliance does not approve of a disproportionate increase in the resources of the defence administration. A people’s army and independent national defence are basic guidelines of Finland’s defence, and they should be adhered to. However, military service has to be modernised and developed in a direction in which genders receive equal treatment and freedom of choice is increased.

Left Alliance’s goals:

  • Make sure that Finland’s foreign policy is active and initiative-taking, is based on broad-based international cooperation, emphasises peace efforts and strengthens the structures of multilateral cooperation. The principles of sustainable development guide all foreign, security, trade and global policy.
  • The defence budget should not be pegged to any index that would automatically increase the spending each year; the needs of the rest of society must also be taken into account. Moreover, there can be no “blank cheque” for hardware purchases. In the purchase of fighters, the Left Alliance’s starting point is maintaining a level of performance that credibly prevents attempts or speculations of using Finland’s territory for aggression against other countries. This performance can be secured at a considerably lower level of procurement and maintenance costs than the leadership of the Defence Forces has proposed. Military policy must be subjected to public debate and decided on by the Parliament.
  • Revise military service according to present-day needs, increasing freedom of choice and equality in a national service model, not by moving towards a professional army. National service treats everyone equally, regardless of gender. Moderate sanctions for conscientious objection and shorten the duration of non-military service, and do not punish conscientious objection by way of imprisonment.
  • Increase Nordic cooperation. The most natural partner for Finland is Sweden, another militarily non-aligned state.
  • The exploitation of the natural resources of the Arctic region must be stopped and the aim of international negotiations has to be set as a nature conservation area covering the entire region.
  • Finland will not apply for NATO membership. The Left Alliance demands that the host nation support agreement be reviewed by the Parliament, and aims to revoke it.
  • Participate more actively in peacekeeping and civilian crisis management. Instead of NATO-led operations, UN-led operations in which the risk of becoming parties to the conflict is low are natural to Finland.
  • Prevent involvement in international military exercises that weaken rather than strengthen stability and reduction of confrontation in the Baltic Sea region and Northern Europe.
  • Maintain bilateral talks with Russia. In the long term, Russia must be restored to the scope of comprehensive European cooperation.
  • Support efforts at a peaceful solution to the Syrian conflict and give humanitarian aid to war-affected people in the region. All Syrian democratic forces must be accepted as parties to the peace negotiations. Support the efforts of Rojava and Democratic Federation of Northern Syria to build a democratic society. Act to end Turkey’s military attack and occupation in North Syria.
  • Recognise the states of Palestine and Western Sahara.
  • Increase development cooperation funding and proceed towards the 0.7 per cent share of GDP. Enact an act on development cooperation to ensure consistent development policy.
  • End arms trade with countries that are in a war, are conflict areas or repress human rights. Such states include Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Israel.
  • Promote active disarmament and join the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Finland signs the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
  • Considerably increase state aid to peace organisations and NGOs that promote international cooperation.

8.2 A Europe of people

The Left Alliance strives for a European Union that has decreasing poverty and disparity, respect for labour rights and protection of climate and environment at heart. For years, the EU has been defined by rightist policy and focused on the functioning of the internal market.  The Left Alliance’s goal is to change the situation and build a European Union that focuses on the well-being of people and nature. This requires a change of direction in the Union’s policy.

Europe’s major security problems stem from unfairness and deterioration of the living environment. The challenges are unemployment, uncertainty and inequality due to the financial crisis and unsuccessful economic policy, climate change and its consequences, crises in the nearby areas and the Middle East in particular and resulting refugee crisis, and violence and terrorism by extreme religious and ultra-national groups. These problems cannot be solved through armament and policy of cut-backs, but through cooperation and investments in the well-being of people. While the European Union focuses on solving major cross-border problems, independence must stay with the Member States in national decision-making. Decisions should – whenever possible and reasonable – be made as close to people as possible. The European Union must not, for instance, force the Member States to cut back on public services or reduce state ownership, and the Union should not focus on regulating unnecessary details. However, the Union must protect the human and social rights of all EU citizens more strongly.

Human rights, democracy, the rule of law and equality are often said to be at the core of the values of Europe and the European Union. Human rights and civil rights must not remain mere triumphant talk in the Union; they must also come true in the EU’s activities, budget and administration of justice.

Left Alliance’s goals:

  • Raise social rights, resolution of environmental problems and well-being of people to the core of EU policy instead of neoliberal market policy. Prepare more extensively binding EU regulations on social rights. The EU implements a social Europe in actions, not just words.
  • Create joint safe routes for immigration and uniform asylum criteria and procedures and prevent human trafficking.
  • Develop the Dublin Regulation in the direction of a permanent responsibility-sharing mechanism that takes into account the economic differences between different EU Member States. Part of EU funding is tied to receiving asylum seekers.
  • The asylum system is primarily developed based on the free movement of people in the EU.
  • Agreements with Libya and Turkey, among others, aiming to stop the transit of asylum seekers, are re-negotiated. Address the negative rule of law and human rights development of EU Member States. The policy of last resort is to stop payments to the Member State and expel the Member State from the Union.
  • Strengthen the minimum levels of terms of employment in Europe and define European minimum standards for social security.
  • Allocate EU funding to the Pillar of Social Rights, environmental affairs, promotion of movement, education, research and development and strengthening the funding of investments that promote a sustainable structural reform.
  • The European Union must not be used as a tool of power politics or sphere of influence mindset. The obligations of mutual responsibility and assistance between the Member States included in the Lisbon Treaty must not be abused. Finland must always independently decide on the form of assistance.
  • The precondition for cooperation between Turkey and the EU must be Turkey committing to democracy, human rights and peaceful resolution of the Kurdish question. Imprisoned opposition MPs, journalists and other political prisoners must be released promptly.
  • The EU budget must not be used for armament. Instead of militarisation, promote the development of security cooperation between the Member States to address international terrorism, human trafficking and organised crime.

9. A fair and democratic country

Human rights, democracy and the rule of law are core values of Finnish society and the Left. The welfare state must guarantee everyone’s fundamental and human rights and genuine and equal opportunities for enjoying them.

Power emanates from the people. The democratic system must be continuously developed and new forms of engagement created. The opportunities and preconditions for engagement must be secured for everyone. In the rule of law, governance is based on law, everyone is equal before the law and the rights of individuals and minorities are secured. The rule of law has to be developed and defended continuously.

Guaranteeing safety and security is an important task of society. The functional capacity of the police and other security authorities must be secured. However, safety and security must be viewed in a broader context than mere powers and functional capacity of the police and other authorities. Promoting social justice and preventing social exclusion are key ways of increasing security. Citizens’ rights and fundamental rights must be reinforced without an unreasonable increase in control and supervision.

In a free and equal country, everyone gets to be themselves. Promoting the position and equality of sexual and gender minorities must be continued. Racism, discrimination and prejudice must be fought with determination. Hate speech, fake news and incitement must be fought by way of legislation, actions by the authorities, correct information and joint intervention.

Gender equality is never complete, it requires continuous work. Finland’s specific problems include violence against women, unequal distribution of family leaves and gender segregation by sector. Gender-related impacts must be taken into consideration in all decision-making, and gender equality must be promoted.

9.1 An equal Finland that is safe for everyone

Finland must be a good country for everyone, including minorities. The position of sexual and gender minorities has been promoted through individual legislative amendments in recent years, but they have been fragmented. A holistic approach is needed to promote equality. The Trans Act must be urgently revised in full, and the realisation of the individual’s right of self-determination must be set as its starting point. Access to adequate and individual gender conflict treatment and services must be secured for everyone, including children and young people. The society’s gendered structures must be dismantled and the position of non-binary people must be improved.

Relationship violence is an extensive human rights problem in Finland. Thousands of women experience sexual violence each year. The Istanbul Convention of the Council of Europe on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence requires establishing sufficient and easily accessible shelters for victims. The Istanbul Convention also requires establishing support centres for victims of sexual violence. Honour violence and female genital mutilation are also forms of control and violence targeting women in particular that must be combatted more actively.

Sexual offence legislation must protect the right of sexual self-determination. The Criminal Code chapter on sexual offences must be revised in its entirety, and the definition of rape must be amended to be consent-based.

Besides gendered violence, a significant equality problem faced by women is lower income compared to men and problems with career progression. Pay disparity between sexes can be narrowed down by decreasing gender segregation by sector, adjusting pay in female-dominated sectors, promoting pay transparency and distributing responsibility for family life. Family leave reform is needed to strengthen the position of women in the labour market and men’s involvement in family life. A reform of family leaves would therefore also increase men’s equality and strengthen their parenthood.

In addition to the unequal distribution of family leaves, other gendered problems encountered by men are weaker health and education compared to women and gendered military service. Demolishing narrow gender stereotypes and promoting gender-sensitive education can increase the possibilities of all genders to lead individual and liberated lives.

Left Alliance’s goals:

  • Revise the Trans Act comprehensively to be based on the right of self-determination. Separate the medical and legal processes of confirmation of gender. The confirmation of gender must be based on a notification. Remove the requirement for infertility in the confirmation of gender. The Trans Act must also recognise non-binary people.
  • A social transition is made possible for all children and young people with the support of social and health services, early childhood education and school. Legal correction of gender is facilitated for those aged over 15 by way of own notification, and for those under 15 with the permission of the custodian or child welfare services. Puberty blocker hormones are made more easily available. The trans process of an underage person is based on taking the child’s age and development level into account in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  • Revise legislation on sexual offences to be based on consent.
  • Secure the bodily integrity and right of self-determination of children. Prohibit medically unnecessary treatments conducted without the child’s consent aiming to shape the body’s gendered features.
  • Prohibit the mutilation of the genitals of all genders.
  • Prepare a cross-administrative LGBTIQA+ action programme to coordinate policy and systematically promote the rights of sexual and gender minorities.
  • Revise the personal identity code to be gender-neutral. Primarily, investigate waiving the concept of legal gender, or alternatively facilitate a third legal gender.
  • Enact a parenthood act according to which parenthood is registered in the Population Information System as parenthood, not fatherhood or motherhood, and that makes legal parenthood possible for more than two parents.
  • Enhance the possibility and resources of the authorities, legal system and other parties to recognise, prevent and combat honour violence and female genital mutilation.
  • Establish an adequate number of women’s shelters and support centres for the victims of sexual offences and ensure support for the victims of sexual offences throughout the country.
  • Ensure the right to safe, free and unlimited abortion. Prepare a comprehensive reform of the Act on Induced Abortion, with the starting point of strengthening the right of self-determination of the pregnant person and making abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy always available upon request. The requirement for statements by two physicians must be omitted. Going forward, contact with a single physician or a healthcare professional separately authorised for it will be sufficient for performing the procedure.
  • Increase and improve sex education at all age levels.
  • Strengthen the right of self-determination of those giving birth by expanding childbirth counselling, training employees and developing the operating guidelines.
  • Permit law-regulated and uncommercial surrogacy that is available equally regardless of gender, protecting the interests and well-being of the child, surrogate mother and intended parents alike.
  • Implement a family leave reform that increases the family leave quota for the second parent. Family leaves must be reformed so that they are equal to all families.
  • Promote wage transparency.
  • Implement a family leave reform that increases the family leave quota for the father.
  • Promote gender-sensitive education at all levels and aim to reduce gender segregation by sector by dismantling gendered counselling. Incorporate gender-sensitive education to teacher training and supplementary training.
  • Investigate and implement ways of addressing the gender segregation of education and differences in learning outcomes.
  • Develop military service in a gender-neutral direction.
  • Guarantee the right of asylum seekers of all ages to mental health services.
  • Establish the position of a disability ombudsman.

9.2 Humane asylum and immigration policy

Human rights also apply to refugees and asylum seekers. People’s distress and the root causes of migration cannot be resolved by closing down borders. Finland must exert influence in the long term to resolve the root causes of migration in bilateral relationships, the European Union and United Nations by means of development policy, human rights policy and peace policy.

In the European Union, Finland should promote the high level of the asylum procedure and international protection and increasing safe routes and cooperation between the Member States. Finland’s own asylum policy must implement human rights principles, bilateral agreements and the rule of law.

Finland needs immigration and the labour input provided by immigrants. Work permit processes must be made easier and the integration of labour immigrants must be enhanced. The exploitation of immigrants in the labour market must be prevented by telling immigrants about their rights and increasing the supervision of terms of employment.

Left Alliance’s goals:

  • Accelerate and streamline the permit processes for labour immigration.
  • Increase the integration and language training for labour and student immigrants. More should be invested in the integration of spouses as well.
  • Increase the annual refugee quota to a minimum of 2,500 in the future. Act to significantly increase the quota refugee acceptance in the EU.
  • Cancel the deteriorations in asylum seekers’ legal protection. Ensure the fairness of the asylum procedure and non-infringement of non-refoulement. Make sure that the authorities’ country guidelines are aligned and in harmony with the guidelines of the UN Refugee Agency.
  • Make family reunification easier and promote the realisation of the interests of the child.
  • Secure paperless migrants’ right to emergency social and health care services by law.
  • Aim to reduce detention and prohibit the detention of all underage persons.
  • Encourage asylum seekers’ working. Employees who have received a negative asylum decision are not to be returned while the work permit process is underway. Make it possible to grant an employee’s residence permit also to persons who have arrived as an asylum seeker and do not have a valid travel document, e.g. by expanding the use of the non-citizen passport.
  • Guarantee the right of asylum seekers of all ages to mental health services.

9.3 Democratic and equal rule of law

Democracy is not only about elections, and in a strong democracy, the civil society plays a strong role. NGOs’ opportunities for engagement and influence are facilitated through conventional hearing and consultation procedures as well as by supporting the operational prerequisites of NGOs and the third sector.

Increasing hate speech and racism particularly restrict the involvement of minority groups, women and experts in public debate. Securing equal engagement opportunities for everyone requires intervening in hate speech, taking people’s different backgrounds into account and supporting engagement.

Democracy can also be strengthened by expanding the right to vote and reinforcing young people’s political expertise. In reinforcing democracy, it is also essential to facilitate different kinds of people standing in for positions of trust. However, the high cost of election campaigns causes inequality between the candidates. Equality can be increased by imposing election campaign caps.

In a country that follows the rule of law, everyone is able to submit their case to an independent court of law. The implementation of the rule of law in Finland, however, is deteriorated by expanding legal expenses and long processing times. According to the Left Alliance, everyone must be equal before the law, so the price of legal proceedings must be made more reasonable and their durations shortened.

The use of force must be based on the law. The use of force must be limited to the authorities, and the police must be provided with adequate resources for seeing to the safety and security of citizens.  People must be able to move around without fear and the threat of violence, so violent street patrols and racist organisations must be prohibited. However, the best way to prevent hate speech, racism and discrimination is through systematic cross-administrative work at different levels of society, such as education, the labour market and authorities’ activities. The best way to prevent confrontation is to reduce inequality.

Left Alliance’s goals:

  • Secure the operational prerequisites of NGOs through grants and the use of public premises. Consult NGOs in national and local decision-making.
  • Everyone has the right to submit their case before a court of law, also those with low incomes. Investigate and adopt ways of making the price of legal proceedings more reasonable and mitigate the risk of costs. Shorten the durations of legal proceedings.
  • Lower the voting age to 16 in municipal elections. Hasten and increase civic education so that everyone is given the necessary knowledge and skills to take part in decision-making.
  • Enact election campaign caps in euros: EUR 10,000 in municipal elections, EUR 20,000 in county elections, EUR 30,000 in parliamentary elections and EUR 50,000 in European Parliament elections.
  • Commission a mandatory lobbyist register that applies to the Parliament as well as the Government.
  • Amend legislation so that limited liability companies with majority municipal and county shareholding follow the Act on the Openness of Government Activities in line with the “Swedish model” going forward.
  • Revise legislation to facilitate binding referenda and binding member votes in associations.
  • Prohibit violent street patrols and racist organisations
  • Address targeting for harassment by securing the authorities’ resources and reviewing the functionality of legislation.
  • Increase the resources for securing criminal investigations and policing throughout the country.
  • Strengthen the functioning of the civic society and encourage citizens to be active by participating in citizens’ initiatives and petitions and organising demonstrations.
  • We will take measures to amend legislation so that small-scale voluntary and NGO activities are left outside the scope of the Income Register.

 9.4. Effective regional policy in the benefit of the entire country

The Left Alliance wants Finland to be developed in a balanced way. We are a party for the entire country. Sustainable well-being of people and the environment across the country is a must.

There are lots of resources and strengths in Finland, both in cities and rural areas. Urbanisation is a global megatrend that can also be seen in Finland. It cannot be stopped, but it can be kept under control. At the same time, living in the countryside must be possible in the future as well. Basic services must be available everywhere.

Political measures can influence the development of regions through infrastructure, education or economic and housing policy, for instance. In this respect, the needs of the Helsinki metropolitan area, central rural cities and sparsely populated countryside are distinct in Finland.  Confrontation should not be built between them.

Leftist regional policy must be effective. It develops the country on the basis of the specific strengths of each region, identifying the special characteristics of the regions and takes overall security of supply of the country into consideration.

Goals of the leftist regional policy:

  • Growth pacts must be concluded to develop provincial urban regions. They can improve the accessibility of the regions. Railway projects, for instance, are of paramount importance to the vitality of many regions.
  • Each Finnish region must have a university or university of applied sciences, also sufficient secondary education places must be available in each region.
  • Funding for the maintenance of the basic traffic infrastructure of sparsely populated areas must be secured. Particular attention must be paid to the quality of winter maintenance. Public transport, including demand responsive transport, must be developed into a valid alternative to car use.
  • A high-speed broadband network must cover all of Finland.
  • The Mining Act has to be revised so that the decision on establishing mines is included in the scope of local democratic decision-making, society receives fair compensation from the profits of the companies and environmental aspects are better taken into account.
  • In addition to tourism and other service industries, sustainable farming and other food production providing jobs and self-sufficiency must be developed in rural regions.
  • In revising the general transfer system, sparse population and island status must be criteria for increased general transfers. General transfers should also encourage service cooperation transcending municipal boundaries. The general transfers granted to municipalities should match their duties.
  • In reforming social and health services, the economic burden on municipalities should be transferred to counties, and to the state in particular.
  • Mobile services and services delivered to home must be developed specifically for the needs of residents of rural municipalities.
  • Each municipality must offer well-being services
  • Develop the funding models distributed by the state to cities in a more equal direction. Investigate the possibility of expanding the MAL agreements on land use, housing and transport also into urban regions with under 100,000 residents and take geographical equality into account in support procedures.
  • Investments must be made in nature conservation in rural and sparsely populated areas because e.g. valuable natural and cultural environment sites and groundwater areas are located in them.