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Parliament mulls how to deal with citizens’ initiatives

The Parliamentary Speaker’s Council will hear opinions from parliamentary parties before giving instructions on how to deal with citizens’ initiatives.

The ‘fur farm-free Finland’ campaign handed over their initiative to ban fur farming to the parliament last week. Some 70,000 citizens had signed it within the required time period.

The Council hopes to hold a preliminary debate by the first of May, after which the initiative will go to the Agriculture and Forestry Committee. The initiative’s fate beyond this point is completely open – it may end up buried by the Committee.

The new law, which came into force on 1 March, allows interest groups who gather signatures from 50,000 Finns within six months to have their legislative proposal considered by Parliament.

According the Speaker’s Council, the way the first initiative is handled will be a model for dealing with similar such initiatives in the future, therefore it is important to hear opinions from all parliamentary groups.

Answers are expected from the parliamentary parties by 8 April.

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The Finnish co-op group's department store, Sokos, has announced it will stop stocking fur products. The move brought plaudits from animal rights advocates, but criticism and threats of a boycott from Centre Party MPs. A store representative originally said the decision was made to improve animal welfare, but later, after the political backlash, S Group management corrected the message, saying the company had no official stance on fur production and was dropping furs due to a lack of demand.

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