Guest pen Municipal elections should be postponed until the fate of the sote reform is clear

Municipal elections can be combined with next year’s provincial elections if Parliament approves the SOTE reform with its shortcomings.

Municipal elections less than three months until the actual election day (April 18). Still, no one yet knows what kind of duties the municipal councilors will perform in the next election term. Do they belong to social and health services for a year, two or the whole four-year term of office?

Due to the uncertainty related to the Sote reform, the elections should be postponed so that the municipal elections will be held at the same time as the provincial elections in early 2022. This would improve the quality of Finnish local government in many ways.

As the provincial elections cannot be brought forward due to the incompleteness of the SOTE reform, the municipal elections must be postponed. If Parliament approves the current SOTE reform, municipal and provincial elections can be held simultaneously next year.

Municipal elections was already postponed in the last decade from October 2016 to spring 2017, and there was no harm in extending the term of office.

Simultaneous holding of elections would save at least EUR 17 million in a single shot. It costs so much to hold elections in Finland. Only fools use the amount twice in a year when one item of expenditure would make it.

The simultaneous holding of elections could also increase turnout, as the Swedish example has shown. The new provincial elections would benefit from municipal elections, where turnout has been around 60 per cent in recent decades.

If the sote model pursued by the government collapses in the Constitution Committee, for example, to the special status of Helsinki or the unreasonable treatment of private sote companies, ordinary municipal elections would be held in early 2022.

In the current In the proposal of the government of Sanna Marin (sd), the bar of sote reform has been really lowered. Following the knockouts of previous sote models, the absolute value has been the passage of reform rather than quality.

Now there is no more talk of the savings brought about by the sote reform, quite the contrary. However, when Juha Sipilä’s (central) government tried the reform, it was suggested that SOTO expenditure would decrease by billions of euros in the future compared to a situation where the reform would not take place.

In the sote preparation carried out under the leadership of the Minister of Family and Basic Services Krista Kiuru (sd), the sledding sticks have been rotated so far and carefully in difficult places that the finish time is not lost. Many weeping whistles have gotten their will through.

There were already too many Sote areas in the Sipilä government’s 18-area model. According to experts, a country the size of Finland has a maximum of 12 regions and about 200,000 inhabitants. In the previous preparation, there were 18 areas, and the Kiuru team turned 22.

At the request of the RKP, Vaasa Central Hospital received the widest level of emergency care, and the 12 largest emergency areas became 13. The most demanding on-call service in Ostrobothnia is a real local service if it is offered in Seinäjoki, Kokkola and Vaasa.

In the previous round, it was decided to close the two most painful hospital districts, whose central hospitals were in Savonlinna and Kemi. After a loud complaint, Savonlinna Hospital was granted a ten-year extension. The Kemi outsourced hospital was given a five-year transition period, then apparently to continue as a “normal” public hospital.

From one Three new sote areas would be born from Uusimaa and Helsinki on top of them, which became a kind of tuning. Jyrki Katainen’s (Coalition) Board planned to organize social services on the model of host and slave municipalities, where the host would produce and the slave would buy. It proved to be unconstitutional and would have violated the equality of citizens as defined in the Constitution, as municipalities cannot be placed in an unequal position on the basis of size.

If this sote tune is now successful, it will support the notion that the interpretation of the Constitution is ultimately political and not legal. It is worrying that the reform of the government has now been met with a welcome buzz from the point of view of constitutional experts.

Ville Pernaa

The author is a docent in political history at the University of Turku.

The guest pens are the speeches of experts selected by the HS editorial board for publication. The opinions expressed in guest pens are the authors’ own views, not HS’s statements. Writing instructions: www.hs.fi/vieraskyna/.

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