Executive summary

Using all my tenacity, I've managed to slog through the entire of 64 pages of the government program (fi, PDF). Vanhanen II better stay together for its full term, because I'm not reading another one of those for four years. Here are my first impressions:

Foreign policy: The government thinks the proposed EU constitution was a good one. They also feel that the EU should have a common foreign policy. Enlargement should continue and the language is supportive of Turkey and Croatia. Development aid is going up toward 0.7 percent, which is the UN target. The so-called NATO option persists. They're interested in being a part of EU response forces and cooperating with the NATO Response Force. (The foreign, security, and defense policy sections have been translated into English and can be accessed right here (PDF).)

Economy: Taxes are going up on alcohol, tobacco, electricity, and coal. Taxes are going down on income, inheritances, and food. Net spending will increase a little and net taxation will go down. Increased government income from economic growth is expected to make up the gap. Retirement age is going up. Some donations to universities will become tax deductible. Some technical stuff will change - frameworks and such. It may or may not be important, but how would I know?

Justice and internal security: The 2000 constitutional reform will be evaluated. Further change (i.e. stripping more power from the president) is said to be "possible". Election reform is coming, but it may not make it in time for the 2011 parliamentary election. The gap between the first and second round in the next presidential election will be two weeks. (Betcha the National Coalition Party was behind that change.) E-voting is coming, the first step being a pilot project in the 2008 municipal election. The jury system will be abolished for less serious crimes and the saved money will be spent on clearing court backlogs. Several pieces of legislation having to do with the police will be reformed, but no details are given. Gays and lesbians can adopt in situations where one of the couple is the biological parent, if I understand the program's byzantine expression correctly. Immigrating to Finland is to be made easier in various ways. Reading about municipal affairs makes my eyes glaze over.

Education and science: Several small sissy universities will be combined into one big macho university. Vocational schools are important, too, is the general attitude of the program. Students get 15% more government money and can make 30% more money working without losing the government money. The government wants to maintain the state's gambling monopoly. (Why do they express the wish in this section? Because gambling pays for education and science, of course.)

Agriculture and food: the EU's Common Agricultural Policy should be reformed so that its subsidies are fairer, i.e. Finnish farmers should get a larger piece of the pie and foreigners who have the sun to help them should get less. This government doesn't seem inclined to give up on agricultural subsidies without a fight.

Transport and communication: A freeway between Helsinki and Vaalimaa on the Russian border should be finished by 2015. High speed net connections will be built. School kids taking part in a "wide experimental project" will get personal computers. The move to digital TV will take place in 2007-09-01 - no mention of contingencies.

Climate and energy: Energy efficiency should be increased, energy consumption decreased, and so forth. Coal plants and oil-using district heating boilers are to be replaced with low-emission bioenergy alternatives. The target for increasing the use of renewables is 25%. Hydropower and forest-based bioenergy are mentioned prominently. Wind energy, solar energy, and the other usual suspects also get mentions. Nuclear power "must not be closed out".

Business: There's a heck of a lot of vague business speak in this section. Just about everything under the sun is "supported" or "encouraged". Total spending on R&D should be increased to four percent of the GDP.

Various mushy topics: Social security reform is probably coming by the end of 2008, but there are no details as of yet. Simplifying and clarifying the system are mentioned as goals. The possible uses of municipal service vouchers will be increased. Child benefits will go up for single parents (10 euros a month) in 2008 and families with more than two children (10 euros a month starting with the third child) in 2009. Paternity leave will lengthen by two weeks in 2010. National pensions will go up by 20 euros a month in 2008. The Coalition's theme of advancing equal pay in income policy solutions is included, but expressed so that the government is only willing to put money in it if the "municipal sector" first arrives at an acceptable decision.

Environment: I got nothing on the environment, but this section is mostly about housing anyway. Government-financed mortgages will be done away with, apparently. There's a mention of an intriguing corruption fighting scheme, a public data bank from which it can be checked that a constructor has dealt with taxes and employer obligations appropriately. Renovations that increase energy efficiency will receive monetary support. Housing is another area where the concrete details will be decided later in committee.

Ownership policy: "TO BE DONE" was the general gist of the three short paragraphs on this topic.

Developing administration: It's more interesting than it sounds, if only barely. Administrative affairs will be centered in the Ministry of Finance in the future. The Ministry of Business and Labour will include the current Ministry of Trade and Industry and most things handled by the Minister of Labour except immigration affairs. Additionally, lots of fiddling will take place.

Policy programs: Yes, let's investigate things so we'll know how to change them for the better. Great idea. Why didn't we think of it before?

Changes in spending and taxation: I already commented on this aspect.

Minutes from a 2007-04-15 meeting: The government parties need to be unanimous on a) parliamentary election reform and b) changing the water law. The latter means that the Greens can stop the government from building a reservoir at Vuotos, something which they've long opposed. ... Oh yeah, and party subsidies are going up.


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