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 Left Alliance candidate Olga Zamurovic:
The Synthesis Report of Global Thematic Consultation on Addressing Inequality led in 2012-2013 in one of its key points notes: "Inequalities are not just problems for the people whose lives are most directly affected – those most disadvantaged and excluded ... Inequalities harm us all. Among these consequences are: reductions in the pace and sustainability of economic growth; diminishment of the productive potential of all who are harmed and excluded, and the loss of this potential to society; the worsening of existing fragilities and vulnerabilities, including to conflict and disasters; and the weakening of social cohesion and of security for all. Addressing inequalities is not only the right thing in principle, but also vital in ensuring that we have a sustainable and peaceful world."
The Left Alliance is the only major political party in Finland that puts social justice and respect for human dignity at the top of priorities. Our solutions look at the broad social interest – public goods and services accessible to all, human rights and liberties, and the care for the environment.
On the left side of the political spectrum we are the only party that applies both class analysis and democratic pluralist principles, hence being the only party on the Finnish political scene that is able to present viable alternative to cuts and privatization, giving us also the will and determination to reject and reverse pro-corporate austerity policies.
In the Left Alliance we are aware that overcoming the social crisis facing us requires active representation of all social groups. The only views not welcome are those promoting racism, sexism, or discrimination of any other kind.
Non-Finns get voted into the party governing bodies and positions of trust and we have one councillor in the Helsinki City Council from an immigrant background. After speaking my mind several times at the conference I was nominated and elected into the Council of the Left-Women Network (Vasemmistonaiset verkosto), with another non-Finnish candidate.
In the coming municipality elections 14 non-Finns stand proudly as Leftist candidates in Helsinki, with 113 Finns.
The Municipal Council has more competences than some foreigners may yet know. The city decides what kind of services it offers, where and how. Those who work in the city might consider that the political direction city council takes will affect their working conditions.
Almost one half of all "non-native" inhabitants of Finland lives in the capital area and will be affected by the vote in these three municipalities.
Helsinki is rich. If the citizens vote into power decision makers who will truly represent their interest, the city has resources to pay more workers in services, invest in infrastructure and stand with workers and unions against the privatisation of their workplaces.
Social recovery won’t come out of creating more space for profit, but from building an equal, well-integrated society, flexible to recognize space for everyone.
We want to live in a society in which everyone will feel safe, regarded and valued. Everyone who wants the same should consider voting for us.