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Defence Committee: Increasing societal inequality could dampen willingness to defend country

A year-on-year survey shows that Finns would be less willing to defend their country against attack with armed resistance than before. Growing inequality may be a reason, according to the Defence Committee.

Ilkka Kanerva chairs Parliament's Defence Committee.

Parliament's Defence Committee says that Finland needs to take prompt action against increasing inequality in society at large to prevent societal instability and a decline in citizens' willingness to defend the country.

Centre Party MP Seppo Kääriäinen says that this is the first time that defence policy is being considered from the perspective of social integrity.

The Committee's report refers to a recent survey (siirryt toiseen palveluun) on respondents' willingness to defend the country, conducted by the Finnish Social Science Data Archive and the Advisory Board for Defence Information.

The poll, conducted since the 1970s, shows that 71 percent of respondents were willing to "take up arms to defend themselves in all situations" in the event of an attack on Finland in 2016. That is 7 percent less than one year previously.

The Committee concludes that encouraging volunteer defence work is important, but that an increase in general societal inequality is a real, growing risk for national defence. The committee members emphasised that "every person should be able to consider this country worth defending".

Committee chair, NCP's Ilkka Kanerva says that the results of the running survey are better than those of reports on traditional defence issues.

"We see this challenge [i.e. increasing equality] as something broader," Kanerva said Thursday.

The Defence Committee report also expressed concern over how well Defence Forces personnel are coping with work-related pressure.