This Week in Finnish Politics

Today was the last workday of the Parliament of Finland before the election break. This final week was so eventful that I had to write this post to make sense of it.

Healthcare for paperless immigrants

On Monday, the cabinet proposed a law that would guarantee a minimum level of healthcare for paperless immigrants. The law was prepared by Minister of Health and Social Services Susanna Huovinen, of the Social Democratic Party. The law would have been likely approved, except that MP Kari Rajamäki, also of SDP, demanded postponing the vote. Because this is the last week of the Parliament, there was no time for another vote and so the law was abandoned.

Mr. Rajamäki, after 32 years in the Parliament, is not going to run for the Parliament again. He must be proud of his last act as a member of Parliament.

Limiting student benefits

The cabinet proposed taking away the student benefits for studying for a second degree of the same level that one already has. The proposal was widely critisized by the student movement, but it was nevertheless initally approved on Tuesday by votes 95-91.

On Thursday, a change to the law about the Sami Parliament of Finland was withdrawn by the cabinet. MPs of SDP (which is a member of the cabinet coalition) announced that they would also postpone the ratification of ILO Convention 169.

This pissed off the Swedish People’s Party (also member of the cabinet coalition) and they announced on Friday that they’d vote against the student benefit law in the final vote. Almost immediately, National Coalition Party (yet another member of the cabinet) announced that they will follow suit. In turn, SDP announced that they’d vote against the second-level education budget cuts proposed by the cabinet.

Today, in the final vote, the parliament voted against the student benefit law 185-1. Only Kimmo Sasi (NCP) voted for it. He commented that he is fed up with all the budget cuts being flushed down the toilet.

Prime Minister Alexander Stubb (NCP) commented that the coalition government is not in chaos or collapsed. Yeah right.

Comments or questions? Send me an e-mail.