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#useyourvote debate: Why vote Centre Party?

Yle News hosts an election debate on 22 March at 2pm, streamed live on Yle Areena and Facebook and featuring candidates from each of Finland's eight parliamentary parties. Ahead of the debate we asked each of the participants to pitch for votes from non-Finnish residents who are comfortable speaking English.

Video: Laura Kolbe
Centre Party candidate Laura Kolbe explains why she thinks immigrants should vote for her party. Video: Yle

Foreigners are a sizeable but under-served constituency in the upcoming municipal elections, with more than 130,000 non-Finnish citizens eligible to vote. Most permanent residents of Finland are eligible to cast a ballot in the poll, but at the last election in 2012 slightly less than 20 percent of eligible foreigners actually voted. That's just a third of the overall turnout figure of 58 percent.

Some 39 percent of those who did vote said they did not have enough information ahead of polling day.

That's why we asked each party to make a pitch in English explaining why foreigners should consider voting for them--and to attend our election debate to answer our questions about their pitch. You can watch the debate online at Yle Areena and Facebook from 2pm on 22 March.

Here's the pitch from Centre Party candidate Laura Kolbe:

The Centre Party of Finland looks to the future. We want to create wellbeing together, with care and compassion.

We believe that every Finnish citizen should have the right to choose where they want to build their homes and lead their lives. It is the decision-makers’ duty to create conditions for good living in all parts of the country. Good living consists of a comfortable living environment and the ability to choose a form of housing that suits your life situation.

Caring and looking after each other is a legacy we Finns pass from generation to generation. We all know countless stories of heroic acts by ordinary people; acts of support and caring for those less fortunate.

We need more caring and responsibility, for ourselves and for our fellow human beings. Let’s all rise to the challenge, and contribute to a more caring community. Do you know your neighbour? Have you offered to help an old person with their daily chores? Anyone can be an everyday hero – all it takes is your time and effort.

The Centre Party has a solution that will ensure equal access to health and social services to all Finnish people, everywhere in Finland. High quality service requires more resources, which is why in the future, health and social services will be organised by the regions. We must honour the promise of providing care to Finnish people, with compassion.

We see a bright future for Finland. Our economy is finally back on a growth track,  and employment figures are rising. We must do everything in our power to reinforce this positive trend. Reforms in Finland are long overdue, which is why some painful decisions could not be avoided. We are committed to building a safe and secure Finland where care and concern extends to all citizens and the entire country. This is why we need to reform both the health and social services and the regional government.

The ideology of the party is unusual in the European context. Unlike many other large parties in Europe its ideology is not primarily based on economic systems. Rather the ideas of humanity, education, the spirit of the land, peasant-like freedom, decentralisation, "the issue of poor people", environmentalism and progressivism play a key role in Centrist politician speeches and writings.

If we support and help each other, we will pull through, solve our problems, and make our daily life safer. Everyday heroism should start where you live. Local residents should be able to build a community that reflects who they are and what they want. Everyone should be provided an opportunity to build this country – together.

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