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Marin's SDP calls for more support for home caregivers, tackling bullying and harassment

The SDP, which has been losing support in the polls, was the last party to announce its municipal election programme.

Sanna Marin ja Antton Rönnholm
SDP chair, Prime Minister Sanna Marin and party secretary Antton Rönnholm opened the launch of the party's municipal election program in Helsinki on Sunday. Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

Prime Minister Sanna Marin's Social Democratic Party (SDP) has unveiled its agenda in the run-up to local elections in June.

Among other issues, the party platform emphasises support for those who take care of family members with illnesses or disabilities at home.

In a speech on Sunday, party chair Marin said that criteria for subsidies for home caregivers should be harmonised throughout the country and that sufficient funds must be set aside for family care subsidies.

There are nearly 50,000 caregivers in Finland who have entered into family care contracts, and altogether some 350,000 people who care for relatives on a permanent basis.

More action against bullying and harassment

Marin also highlighted actions against bullying and violence. According to Marin, the SDP wants an anti-bullying action programme to be drawn up in each municipality and its implementation to be monitored regularly.

“Schools must be safe places for everyone, and harassment and bullying in leisure time must also be addressed immediately, whether it is violence in the physical, mental or electronic world,” Marin said at the launch of the party's municipal election program in Helsinki.

We'll be covering the issues leading up to the elections on 13 June in our All Points North podcast. You can hear the latest episode n this embedded player, via Yle Areena, on Spotify or via your favoured podcast provider.

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Bullying and harassment not only affects children and young people, but also affects people’s willingness to participate in municipal decision-making, Marin noted.

"Recently, we have had reports of people quitting politics because of inappropriate behaviour in dealing with our common issues and debate. This must end. We may disagree, but every person must be respected," Marin said.

A study released last month indicated that the female leaders of Finland's governing parties have been the subject of a hate speech campaign on social media, and warned that this might discourage women in particular from entering politics.

SDP support slipping

The SDP was the last party to announce its municipal election programme. Advance voting begins just over a month and a half from now, on 26 May.

The latest Yle municipal election poll, released in early April, showed the SDP dropping to third place behind the two main opposition groups, the Finns Party and the National Coalition Party.

However, all three had support of 18-19 percent, with the differences between them well within the margin of error.

The three parties are also close together in numbers of parliamentary seats, with the SDP holding 40 seats and the two main opposition parties with 38 each.

Finland's longest serving female PM, Marin has held the office since December 2019, becoming party chair last August.

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