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Thousands congregate in Helsinki to protest gov't cuts

Busloads of protestors from all corners of Finland gathered in Helsinki on Saturday to protest the government’s proposed budget cuts. The activist group Joukkovoimaa hallituspolitiikkaa vastaan (People power against government policies) arranged the demonstration.

Image: Jouni Immonen / Yle

Police estimate that between 3,000 and 4,000 people gathered in Helsinki’s city centre on Saturday to protest the current government. The activist group behind the demonstration said it was to protest government cuts to low-income earners in the proposed budget.

The protest took the form of a march, which traversed the city centre and ended in front of the business lobby EK’s headquarters near the harbour. One of the protest’s main arguments was that Prime Minister Juha Sipilä has become a puppet of the business owners’ confederation. 

The protest banned the use of political party insignias, as it wishes to remain unaffiliated. The unifying principle is to oppose the current leadership’s austerity policies that punish society’s poorest members, and help find viable alternatives, organisers say.

Sanna Siirtola from Turku has been unemployed for a long time.

“I’m a single parent without work. I can’t understand the government’s cuts. We should be using money in Finland to take care of our disabled and poor, but instead the government is looking after the interests of big business,” she said.

Toni is another participator in the demonstration. He didn’t wish to reveal his last name. He says he is an opponent of globalisation.

“The government takes from the people and the money goes to the European Central Bank. Instead of serving Finland’s ‘too expensive’ workers, Sipilä is safeguarding the benefits of big business.”  

The police report that the protest proceeded peacefully.

The same group arranged a similar demonstration in Helsinki last spring in which 10,000 people participated.

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