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JUHANI ARTTO
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STTK working to impact next government programme

STTK (12.11.2010 - Juhani Artto) Like other major interest groups and organizations, The Finnish Confederation of Professionals STTK has prepared, in cooperation with its affiliated unions, a document in which it sets out its goals aimed at the next government programme. The Parliamentary elections will be held in April 2011 but STTK and the other interest organizations have had their own proposals for the next government programme ready for some time.

By outlining and making known their own proposals in advance the interest organizations try to influence the election campaigns of the various political parties and individual candidates. And after the election STTK and other influential interest organizations are closely consulted when political parties negotiate on which parties will form the next government and on the kind of programme the government will follow.

In Finland many political analysts say that the single most important document in Finnish politics is the government programme. There are good reasons to think so.

The pattern of having long-time coalition governments has prevailed for over 30 years. In practice, it has been the rule to have a majority coalition government throughout the whole 4-year legislative period. There has always been the odd reshuffle with some ministerial changes in the course of a government, and even a change of Prime Minister on a couple of occasions, but basically the coalition of ruling parties have remained unchanged for the whole 4-year period. Only the outcome of fresh elections has led to changes in the ruling coalition.

Government programmes have been written and approved by the various political parties that make up the ruling coalition for the entire 4-year period, up until the next Parliamentary elections. As the goals of the coalition partners can naturally be expected to differ in several more or less important respects, and which need to be addressed and ironed out within the next four years, government programmes are essentially key consensus agreements.

Nowadays all stakeholders know, from experience, that (when it comes to the Government’s agenda and all matters dealt with by Parliament) it is very difficult to promote goals that are not included in the government programme. Governments have tended to concentrate on implementing their own programmes.

STTK campaigns

STTK seeks to involve its rank and file members and grass-roots activists by organizing, in various parts of the country, open meetings where the government programme goals are explained. A series of such meetings began in September, and many more of these type meetings are scheduled. Events like this also serve to make STTK's goals known to election candidates and voters in constituencies around the country.

The goals themselves do not offer any real surprises. The priority list includes, for example, measures that promote employment and well-being at work, income tax reduction, improvements in education and efforts to create a more favourable milieu for economic growth. The goals are broken down into five areas: public finances, taxation, "capable Finland", changing working life and social security. The introduction handles climate change, energy policy and structural changes in economic life.

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