Fairness, Choice, Climate Responsibility
The 2008 Local Elections Manifesto of the Green League of Finland
Adopted by the Party Council 24 February 2008
The local government policy of the Greens is based on the following positions:
- responsibility for the climate belongs to everyone
- biodiversity and animal welfare are also local government issues
- new nuclear power plants or uranium mines are unnecessary
- public services create quality of life
- it is better to invest in health rather than pay for illness
- parents should be free to choose the form of day-care for their children
- high-quality basic education is the basis for equality
- municipalities must be fair employers
- the people must have a say in public affairs
- poverty can be beaten, indifference can be vanquished
- the rights of minorities must be defended
- the promotion of equality belongs also to local government
- tolerant and multiculturally oriented municipalities have the best chances of success
Local decisions change the world
Local government belongs to all of us. When we make local changes, we change the world. Local councils empowered by local inhabitants determine our future.
Local elections deal with day care, schools, health centres, libraries, theatres, concert halls, housing estates, streets, parks, harbours and sports facilities. Local government bears responsibility for improving public transport, for building new housing and for the location of incinerators or uranium mines.
The Greens want to introduce courage, determination and transparency into local government. Local politics is in need of big goals and creative ideas. Problems traditionally regarded as insurmountable can be resolved. The Greens bring into local government a fresh attitude, a new culture and joy – and a new generation of decision-makers.
1. One step ahead in fighting climate change
All greenhouse gas emissions are produced locally. Through local choices, local government and local individuals can cut emissions, promote renewable energy sources and save energy. The Greens have proposed and will propose more long-term initiatives in the battle against climate change than other parties. A Green community will make practical decisions to cut emissions. We want to leave the prerequisites for a good life and a clean environment also to the coming generations.
We want to increase the proportion of renewable energy in the energy production owned by local government. Local communities must promote low-energy housing and encourage giving up high-consuming direct electric heating and oil heating. Climate-friendly business is booming: a green community produces more jobs in environmental technology, farming of energy plants and services.
Public transport must function everywhere regardless of municipal borders. Regional public transport authorities are needed to improve public transport all over the country. We advocate additional spending for low-emission rail transport. Ticket prices must be cut, more services must be provided and rolling stock must be made attractive, fast and safe. Cycling and walking must also be promoted.
The Greens have a long-term perspective on the future. Traffic congestion will not be reduced by building more roads and parking spaces – congestion charging in the mode of London or Stockholm should be implemented instead. Excessive traffic, emissions and costs can be cut locally by planning compact and pleasant housing areas near existing urban areas and services or next to rail stations. In order to control urban sprawl, land use, housing and transport must be planned at the regional level.
Climate change is not, however, the only environmental problem. It should not be used as an excuse for decisions which have an adverse impact on other aspects of the environment. Biodiversity, nature reserves and other valuable natural areas must be protected.
Cultural landscapes and good local environments must be safeguarded. Communities must protect forests on municipally owned land. Green spaces must be designated for local recreation also in compact urban planning. Sufficient waterfront areas must be reserved for common use. A green community prepares for environmental accidents beforehand. Waste is minimized and recycled. In public procurement, environmental and etchical aspects will be taken into account by promoting local produce, organic foods and fairtrade goods.
Local government must also be responsible for animal welfare.
2. Services, education and culture are the basis of quality of life
The Greens look for fresh solutions to promote quality of life and prevent social and health problems. Prevention beforehand reduces human suffering and is often cheaper than damage reparation.
The Greens support good public services – they help promote equality and improve the quality of life. As the needs of the people change, the Greens are also prepared to reform the provision of services. Flexibility of services is essential: those in need of help cannot flex, and different people have different needs. Services for the aged should be delivered to the home as opposed to moving the aged to institutions. Individual services and an obstacle-free environment promote an independent life for the handicapped and the aged.
In a Green community, the level of local taxes can be raised in order to guarantee services and quality of life.
Quality of life means freedom of choice between different types of day care and education. It also means an adequately financed primary and secondary education, a meaningful vocational training and free-of-charge universities.
Exhaustion and segregation in schools must be prevented by means of a sufficient number of nurses, psychologists and counsellors. Small group sizes in day care and classroom are a clever investment. When mental health problems arise, help should be at hand without delay. Local government plays a crucial role in the promotion of both equality and health. The health impact of all decisions should be assessed.
Local communities should provide more facilities than just a job and a supermarket. All municipalities should have free, non-commercial spaces: libraries, rehearsal and performing rooms for bands and theatre groups, sports and hobby facilities and community centres.
Everybody should have a right to accommodation at a fair price. The Greens value diversity in housing areas and types of accommodation as well as a pleasant living environment. The Greens also want to preserve old buildings, promote high-quality architecture and improve the quality of building.
3. In a community of equals, everyone is free to choose their way of life
In a Green local community, nobody will be segregated on the basis of gender or age. The same rights and opportunities are guaranteed to immigrants, linguistic, cultural or sexual minorities as to majorities. All ways of life which do not infringe on the rights of others should be allowed for. A Green community respects the principle of equal pay, assesses the gender impact of decisions, employs women in leading positions and works to prevent home violence.
The Greens support the right of everyone to choose between types of housing. Everyone does not wish to live in a detached house, even though many do. Everyone does not wish to live in urban areas, even though many do. In cities, it is important to strive for a housing policy based on social integration. Everybody – including the handicapped and the aged as well as those pushing a pram - should be able to move around without obstacles in the street, in buildings and in public transport.
Everybody has a right to their own language and culture. Immigrants should be granted a subjective right to language tuition.
The Greens support community. Nobody must be left alone with their worries. Solitude can be a resource, but loneliness can become a burden in times of divorce, change of home or retirement.
A fair welfare state is based on a sufficient benefit system. The basic income concept proposed by the Greens helps make ends meet in the face of fragmenting employment, reduces bureaucracy linked to benefits and makes even small earnings worthwhile. Basic income also gives social workers more time to assist individuals and families in need.
4. The Green municipality is an open and lively community
As economic strings do not dictate Green policies, decisions can be made from the citizen’s viewpoint. The Greens have not occupied the same political posts for generations. We wish to open local government to the needs and goals of ordinary people.
An enterprise-friendly Green municipality supports local business actively, equally and transparently.
Municipal borders should not make everyday life more difficult. The Greens think that municipalities can be merged, if this is necessary for the provision of services or sustainable planning.
In Finland, there are no democratically elected decision-making bodies at the regional level. Above and between municipalities, there is a jungle of inter-community powers without clear mandate or accountability. The Greens support the introduction of directly elected regional councils.
Municipalities are major employers which should be responsible for their employees. Temporary jobs should be made permanent in many female-dominated professions such as teachers, school assistants and nurses. An employer which breaks jobs off for the summer is unlikely to be a winner in competition for a diminishing workforce.
The Greens think that everybody – including young people and children – should have a say in the affairs of their street, village or neighbourhood. Local organizations, youth councils and delegations for children, handicapped and the aged should be heard in decision-making. Municipalities should be brought forward to the age of the internet in planning and feedback facilities. Open wireless networks should be made available for everyone in urban areas. Municipalities should provide obstacle-free e-services.
In a Green municipality, everybody is an equal member of the community. People with low incomes benefit from the safety net provided by basic income. This is complemented by schools, day care centres, libraries, health centres and a freedom to choose between different types of service.
Municipalities must invest in their members. A municipality is a community of individuals – a place where everyone is provided an opportunity to strive for a meaningful life.
Translation: Pekka Sauri