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Centre Youth criticised government programme, but won't comment

As late as last week, members of the Finnish Centre Youth said that it’s unhappy with the direction the new government is headed, particularly regarding education cuts. But any further comment on such issues is apparently not forthcoming from party leadership now.

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä leads his new cabinet to the government banquet hall Smolna on Friday.
Image: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva

Last week, the Finnish Centre Youth’s vice chairman Katja Asikainen and party board member Silja Silvasti wrote that they are outraged their mother party, the Centre, had helped create a government programme with harsh austerity measures aimed at students and other vulnerable members of society.

In recent blog posts and a letter to the editor, the two Centre party youths criticised the government’s plans go against foundations of values that protect the poor and vulnerable.  The Finnish Centre Youth is Finland’s biggest political youth organisation, with some 17,000 members in its ranks.

No comment

However, when Yle asked for further comment on their written stances, they declined.

In reply to an email about their comments, Asikainen told Yle that the Finnish Centre Youth has decided not to say anything further about what they wrote.

In a June 4 letter to the editor of Finland’s largest daily newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, Asikainen wrote:

“In the Centre’s new policies of the right, it is the students, unemployed, pensioners and families with children who suffer most. I have never been so disappointed in my own party,” she wrote.

Askianen went on to state that the Centre had become “an extension of the National Coalition Party – a guardian of the business community which does not keep their promises,” she wrote.

Discontent not only from youth

Centre Party member and political researcher Johannes Kananen said he realises that the government programme has evoked criticism. Kananen said that in his opinion, the new government appears to be a continuation of the liberal market ideologies that have characterised Finnish politics since the 1990s.

“I think the ideological line that previous governments have experienced will continue,” Kananen said.

“The government wants things to go well for the export industry and thinks that it would help the economy overall, but it comes at the cost of the weak and vulnerable,” Kananen said. “There’s a risk unemployment will grow because of this.”

Kananen, who ran in this spring’s parliamentary elections, said discontent about the government plan is not exclusive to the Centre Youth, but exists throughout the Centre Party itself.

“During the campaign, I noticed that there was a difference between how party leadership and the rest of the party looked at political questions,” Kananen said.

“It wasn’t only about the Centre, but also other parties. Often party leaders spoke of hard political lines about major cuts, but many candidates spoke of stimulus and a more humane stance on social and political issues. The Centre’s letters to the editor, and now their silence about them, perhaps reflects this conflict,” he said.

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