National Coalition Party challenges excessive power of Social Democrats

Helsingin Sanomat, 6 October 2003

National Coalition Party chairman Ville Itšlš says that his party must challenge Finland's Social Democratic power structures.

Speaking at the autumn meeting of his party's council in Helsinki on Saturday, Itšlš indicated that he would challenge the Social Democrats, after Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen (Centre) had said in a newspaper interview on the previous day that the Centre Party should give up its role of challenger of the SDP.

Itšlš said that the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) has far too much influence in Finland's consensus society, and that the SDP enjoys political hegemony in Finland.

In his view the Social Democrats are acting as spokesmen for the SAK.

Itšlš lashed out at centralised incomes agreements, which he said did not benefit those with middle incomes. He also said that the agreements do not meet the challenges facing Finland in the future, such as unemployment, the ageing of the population, and international tax competition.

Itšlš lamented Finland's high taxation, weak purchasing power, bureaucracy, and the deterioration of public services. He described the consensus society as a greased slide in which it is easy to slip downward because of illness or unemployment, but hopeless to rise up again.

Itšlš said that the Social Democratic social model also hurts entrepreneurs, who should be allowed to prosper—and even to get rich. He feels that now there are no incentives for enterprise, even though increasing the number of entrepreneurs is, in his view, crucial for Finland's future.

Itšlš faulted efforts to make services more efficient at the expense of employees; he said that the right way to achieve better public services would be to dismantle society's monopoly.

The Social Democrats have become the preservers of these structures. In fact, the forces of reaction are to be found in the SAK-SDP axis, Itšlš said.

We must dare challenge these structures. We must dare protect people who want to study, work, and do business, he declared.

The National Coalition Party Council discussed Itšlš's ideas for about two hours. Reactions were all positive. Several speakers applauded the plain speaking, which was attributed to the greater freedom that the party has now that it is in opposition.