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Trade union members well represented among new municipal councillors

20.04.2017 13:29

A large number of trade union activists and rank and file members were once again elected onto the municipal councils in the Finnish local elections.

The right wing populist Finns Party suffered serious losses in the elections, garnering just 8.8 per cent of the votes cast - a dramatic fall off in support from the parliamentary elections in 2015, when the party got an amazing 17.7 per cent of the votes.

A clear signal, perhaps, that the nationalist populist, anti-EU and anti-immigration platform is beginning to lose its appeal. The Finns Party business-orientated policy in Government has also been quite the opposite to their election slogans that promised to support working people.

The prime minister's Centre Party of Finland drew back slightly from the previous municipal and parliamentary elections with 17.5 per cent of the votes.

The third Government party, the conservative National Coalition Party managed to get 20.7 per cent of the votes. A bit less than in the previous municipal elections in 2012, but more than in the parliamentary elections in 2015.

Protest against the Government was channeled to the Green League and the Left Alliance, which increased their share of the vote to 12.5 and 8.8 percent respectively. The increase for the Greens was notable - 3.9 percentage points over its previous election performance. The Left Alliance upped its share of the votes by 1.7 percentage points.

The Finnish Social Democratic Party got 19.4 per cent of votes.This is almost the same as in previous municipal elections and 2.9 percentage points more than in the parliamentary elections in 2015.

Whole political spectrum is represented

The municipal elections took place in the 295 municipalities in continental Finland on April 9. The 16 municipalities in the autonomous archipelago province of Åland will hold elections later.

The total number of candidates was 33,618, and out of these, 8,999 were elected for the next four year term.

As a clear majority of Finns in working life are organised in trade unions, at least a couple of thousand of the new councillors are members of the unions.

Unions traditionally support all their members regardless of their political stand. This support is usually practical, not financial.

Those elected from among the unions belonging to SAK and STTK trade union confederations were mostly Social Democrats. The Left league is also well represented.

The third Finnish confederation Akava affiliates represent the more higher educated people. And union members from amongst their ranks elected to the municipal councils tend more often to be from the Greens or on the right-wing of the political spectrum.

Some results of the elections

A number of unions have published how their members did in the elections. The Metal Worker's Union will have 172 of their members on the new Councils in 105 municipalities. Of these 95 are Social Democrats and 62 represent the Left Alliance. The rest are split among four other political groups.

A total of 413 Trade Union Pro members stood as candidates. 118 of them were elected. Their political spectrum is broad, in the City of Kankaanpää, for example, four Pro members were elected, representing three political parties.

Some 200 of the Industrial Union TEAM members were candidates and 41 of them are now elected. Out of these 26 are Social Democrats, 6 from the Left Alliance, 5 from the Finns Party, 3 Greens and one from the Centre Party.

The Finnish Electrical Workers' Union announced that 12 of their members are now municipal councillors. With two exception they represent either Social Democrats or the Left Alliance.

The Woodworkers’ Union had 131 member as candidates in 83 municipalities on nine different political lists.

The Service Union United PAM revealed that 297 of their members contested the elections. And 51 of them were elected.

A total of 156 members of the Paper Worker's Union participated in the elections and 68 got elected. 46 of them are Social Democrats, 17 represent the Left Alliance, 4 the Finns Party and one the Centre Party.

The Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors JHL has not released any figures for the total number of their members elected on to the new municipal councils. But one of their 11 districts, South-East, listed 38 new councillors in their area. Only four were not Social Democrats.

Tehy, the Union of Health and Social Care Professionals in Finland posted a list of 326 union members who were candidates prior to the elections. Tehy supported them by offering - free of charge - regional offices to candidates’ campaign meetings, selling ads at reduced prices for the Union magazine and producing information material on issues concerning health care.

Heikki Jokinen
Trade Union News from Finland

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