MPs who do several jobs grab seats in provincial councils

MPs who do several jobs grab seats in provincial councils

Finland’s first provincial council elections have given 101 members of parliament, or just over half of the members of parliament, a say in all three levels of government.

This powerful group is made up of municipal councilors as well as newly elected provincial councilors, and they have a day job as a member of parliament in parliament.

A total of 108 MPs now have provincial councilors, including the Minister of Education and the leader of the Left Alliance Li AnderssonInterim leader of the Green Party Iiris Suomelachairman of the Christian Democrats Sari Essayah and the former interior minister of the Coalition Party Kai Mykkänen.

But what is the motivation of MPs, ministers and party leaders to take on more roles and responsibilities?

Josefina SipinenA doctoral researcher in political science at the University of Tampere tells Yle Uutis that he doubts that all these MPs are enthusiastic about several public positions. However, the Finnish D’Hondt voting system leaves them little choice.

"This is because the Finnish electoral system is so candidate-centric that in order to get votes, parties need effective candidates, they need well-known candidates, they need the brightest face to collect votes for the party," Sipinen explains and adds that these well-known candidates are therefore under pressure to run if their candidacy would benefit the wider party.

In Finland, voters select candidates from party lists and each candidate is ranked according to the votes received, with each list being allocated seats in the total number of votes received by the list. In practice, this means that a candidate with a lot of votes can take much less popular candidates to power.

This system can lead to political power being concentrated in fewer and fewer hands.

"There is a danger that in the future we will have professional politicians of this class in this country who will gather all the power. When they take their seats, there is less room for ordinary people," Sipinen adds. "If these places accumulate for certain people, it is a democratic problem that ordinary people are less committed because they think politics is only for professionals and they cannot even seek a council."

Among the public, this concentration of power at different levels of government is not very popular. According to a study published by the Business Forum (Eva) in early January, two-thirds – 68 per cent – of respondents would restrict the ability of politicians to act simultaneously as MPs, city councilors and county officials.

While such a dramatic reform of the system may not be the answer, Sipinen says an “open data” system would increase policy transparency at the local level and help voters make more informed decisions next time at the ballot box.

"It would be good to have transparent data on how actively these MPs and delegates are participating in these meetings. And if people saw that their representative was not actively involved [in the meetings]then these MPs may rethink whether it is worth participating [in the elections]or not," Sipinen said.

Several fees

MPs who perform multiple jobs are also paid at least some pay for each public task they perform.

The MP is paid a salary of EUR 6,614 per month before taxes, which rises to 6,945 if the MP has 4 years and EUR 7,408 after 12 years of service.

A Member of Parliament can also claim expenses of up to EUR 1,809 per month, depending on where you live and where you live in Helsinki. They also receive a monthly allowance of € 744 if they chair the various committees of a parliament.

Municipal councilors are paid to attend council meetings. The amount depends on the task and the municipality, but according to Yle’s analysis in 2018, for example, the Tampere delegates will receive about 330 euros per meeting.

However, the delegate of Utsjoki, the northernmost municipality in Finland, receives only 30 euros per meeting.

The presidency of the council or membership in the council also includes a fixed annual income, which again depends on the municipality. In Tampere, the Chairman of the City Council was paid EUR 8,000 in 2018 and a member of the Board EUR 2,500 in addition to meeting fees.

The exact fees for new county governments or regional health authorities are decided by the provinces, but the afternoon newspaper Ilta-Sanomat reported in early January that budget appropriations have already been made from the Ministry of Finance.

As an example, IS told the Pirkanmaa region that EUR 474,000 has been set aside for the provincial assembly, which would make an average of about EUR 6,000 per delegate. However, these figures have not yet been confirmed.

Source: The Nordic Page

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