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New SDP Chair Stresses Social Responsibility

The new leader of Finland's Social Democratic Party, Jutta Urpilainen, held her first public address Saturday focussing on climate change, education and the welfare state. Speaking to a gathering in the open-air marketplace in Hämeenlinna, Urpilainen said that her election to the top SDP post was an indication of the party's capacity for self-renewal. She continued with a call to the nation's other political parties to meet the challenges faced by the welfare state in a globalizing world. As a concrete example, Urpilainen proposed that public transport be made free of charge for all under-16 year olds. As a long term goal, she noted the provision of free child daycare. The new SDP chair also called for a reduction in social gaps and more fair taxation. She directed the challenge at Prime Minister Vanhanen, saying that there is a need for more dialogue, the means to dampen inflation, and social policies that see to the care of the weakest. Urpilainen stated that the SDP goal in the autumn local elections is to take the position as nation's largest party. SDP party council elected

Also on Saturday, Social Democratic Party congress in Hämeenlinna unanimously elected a new party council. Members of the body are Maarit Feldt-Ranta, Hilkka Halonen, Harri Helminen, Susanna Huovinen, Juha Hämäläinen, Tarja Kantola, Mika Kari, Sirpa Paatero, Tuula Petäkoski-Hult, Raimo Piirainen, Timo Vallittu, Tuula Väätäinen and Esa J. Wahlman.

The SDP's annual party congress wraps up on Saturday. Jutta Urpilainen was elected as the party's new chair on Friday.

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