PARTY PLATFORM

Accepted in party congress on 27.5.2017

Core values of the party

The Liberal Party – Freedom to Choose is a party that aims to further broaden individual freedoms and the freedom of the market. People have the right to choose how to live their lives as long as they do not infringe upon the respective rights of others and do not harm the environment. A free society has both intrinsic and instrumental value because it produces well-being for all people.

The public sector should focus on its core functions and avoid unnecessary interference. Currently the state has taken on many functions which the public sector should not have any part in.

The society must take care of its weakest, such as children, the elderly, sick and disabled. The state should guarantee humane treatment for all of its citizens and no group should be discriminated against via legislative means. Taking care of the underprivileged should not lead to patronizing the entire adult population.

Individual freedom belongs to everyone

People have the right to choose how to live their lives as long as they do not infringe on rights of others and do not cause harm to other people, wildlife and the environment.

People should have the right to make decisions regarding their own life and death. Euthanasia should be made legal.
Substance abuse is a public health problem. Substance abusers should not face criminal sanctions as they cause exclusion and other societal problems for individuals.

Freedom of speech

Opinions and thoughts should not be criminalized. Incitement, threats of violence and defamation should continue to be illegal, but legislation should not restrict the freedom of speech without strong justifications.

Privacy

People have the right to privacy. Authorities should not have the right to monitor person’s communications without a court decision. Mass surveillance is not acceptable under any circumstances. It is not efficient crime prevention and authorities should not be provided with any tools for it. Protection of privacy, as laid out in the Constitution, should not be undermined.

Gun legislation should not be tightened any further. Gun permit legislation should be improved so that one could own multiple firearms with a single permit. The police should focus on vetting first-time applicants instead of existing gun owners.

Egalitarianism

All citizens should have the same rights and responsibilities before the law. Legislation should not treat fully-fledged, adult citizens differently.

Correcting legal gender should be possible by notification. The requirement of sterility for people who have corrected their gender should be removed.

Individuals should not be treated unequally because of their gender or any other personal quality. Inequalities between genders regarding parental benefits, parental recognition and adoption should be removed.

Expenses caused by parenthood should be taken away from employers, since they cause significant inequalities in the labor market.

Freedom of religion

Finland has freedom of religion. The state should not intervene in the practice of any religion unless said practice infringes upon the fundamental rights of an individual. The church and the state ought to be separated. Religious communities should be treated similarly to any other association. The privilege to impose a tax should be removed.

Teaching of individual religions in primary and secondary education should be ceased. Information regarding various religions should be taught as part of other cultural education.

Freedom of commerce

Everyone ought to have the right to earn one’s livelihood by the employment, occupation or commercial activity of one’s choice. The state should not create artificial constraints on commercial activity and the regulatory burden should be significantly reduced.

To encourage commercial activity in Finland entrepreneurship should be made more easily accessible. The state should aim to attract foreign business with less bureaucracy and lower taxation. Permit offices should not act as a source of revenue. To accomplish said goals, various businesses subject to licence should be changed to declaratory in nature. Control should be based on criminal suspicion or conducted via spot checks.

Legislation on bankruptcy should be improved. The debtor and the creditor should carry equal risks. A debtor should have the possibility to interrupt a debt spiral via declaring bankruptcy.

Regulation on pharmacies should be cut down. The state should not address neither the corporate form nor the ownership of pharmacies. The regulation concerning the location and the amount of pharmacies must be ceased. The pharmacy permit should be granted via declaration – qualifications for staff ought to be defined through legislature. There should not be set minimum pricing for pharmaceuticals and it should be legal to order prescription drugs via mail order.
The following permits should be terminated: taxi permit, work permit, professional driving permit, alcohol distribution permit, alcohol serving permit and road safety permit.
State monopolies should be terminated as they infringe on the freedom of commerce. The sales of alcoholic beverages and gambling should be deregulated. Rail transport should be opened to competition. The monopoly over the transmission of electricity should be dismantled.     
The duration of copyrights should be abridged. The current duration of 70 years posthumously is far too long.

Livelihood must be secured for everyone

Basic livelihood

Social security provided by the state should ensure the necessary basic livelihood for all citizens. The weakest must be taken care of under all circumstances. Preserving one’s acquired standard of living is, however, not a matter for the state. Multiple systems of wealth redistribution are employed to transfer money to those who do not necessarily need it. Income-tied unemployment benefits paid by the state should be terminated.

Social security should be extended equally to cover students, temporary workers and entrepreneurs. Welfare traps should be removed by introducing either a Provident Fund system or a Universal Basic Income (UBI). The situation of unemployed should be improved by simplifying bureaucracy and by lifting the waiting periods. Sensible social security system that guarantees basic livelihood in all situations will improve citizens negotiation possibilities in job market considerably.

The housing benefit system in its current form is economically untenable. The cost of housing stays high because of artificial rent controls and the system mainly benefits the lessors. The whole housing benefit system has to be overhauled quickly by lowering the benefits directed towards housing and after intermediate phase the whole system has to be replaced with the social security account or with basic income.

Earnings-related unemployment allowance treats taxpayers unequally. It’s financed almost solely from taxes, even when only the members of unemployment funds are entitled to allowance. Earnings-related unemployment allowance system should be replaced by voluntary earned income insurance. The entrepreneurs should have the same possibility to insure their earned income as the wage earners.

Learn more about unemployment benefits in Finland: http://www.kela.fi/web/en/quick-guide-to-unemployment-benefits

Pensions

The current pension system is not fair to the taxpayer since most of the payments are directed to existing pensioners. The sustainability of the system must be guaranteed for all who contribute to its funding.

Large pensions should be reduced and the saved amount used to decrease pre-payments made into the system. Participation in the public pension system should be mandated only on the part that covers the basic livelihood and the current pension system should be renovated towards something that guarantees basic livelihood. This can be achieved by cutting the benefits from earnings-related unemployment allowance.

Free the labor market

Finland needs a labor market that works on the basis of a market economy. Liberal Party supports giving up on the universality of collective bargaining and allowing to locally agree about the contracts of employment in order to improve the mobility and flexibility of the labor market. The power to make decisions regarding labor market regulations belongs to the elected parliament and not the unions. Union exemptions should be removed and unions should not be allowed to decide contract conditions on the behalf of those who do not belong to a union.

The risk of hiring for the employer should be reduced. The employee should be allowed to resign without fear of losing basic livelihood. To balance for easier dismissal the social security has to be improve so that it doesn’t punish for refusal to accept a new employment contract or resigning from an existing position.

Universality of collective bargaining agreements has to be put to an end.

Taxation – lower level and right focus

The tax system has ended up in a state, in which the operating conditions for numerous industries and fields without tax exemptions or straight-up handouts are often poor. Entire industries can be dependent on tax exemptions or handouts. Currently unnecessarily complicated tax system should be simplified, made transparent and reformed so that it doesn’t distort the market. The government should collect the taxes it requires in an efficient manner.

The total tax rate should be lowered considerably by cutting public spending. The party supports increasing any individual tax rate only if some other taxes are lowered by equal amount. Taxation should focus primarily on unearned income and externalities.

The tax system must be as transparent and simple as possible. Statutory payments must be included on a payslip. Different sources of income should be treated equally. Market distorting and tax system complicating tax deductions should be abandoned concurrently with considerable reductions in the taxation of labor. Deductions to be removed include e.g. mortgage interest deduction, tax exemption for selling one’s house and labor union membership fee deduction. Taxes to be terminated include e.g. car tax, vehicle tax and transfer tax.

Taxation of labor should be lowered considerably

Taxation of labor include all wage bound payments, e.g. pension payment, social insurance payments, municipal tax and state income tax.

Company’s profit should not be taxed unless withdrawn for owners. Estimate-based prepayment of corporate tax should be terminated and dividend taxation should be uniform across all companies.

Taxation of living

Transfer tax should be removed. The part of property tax aimed for building should be removed. The tax relief from selling the house you live in should be removed.

Taxes for buying and owning a vehicle should be removed and the taxation should be balanced towards the externalities and costs of transportation. Vehicle tax and import tax for vehicles should be removed. Taxation should be moved towards taxing of the fuels and road usage tolls.

Public sector should be smaller

The argument for publicly funded functions have to be solid. The state should only own or regulate natural monopolies, basic infrastructure and functions where the security of supply or other reasons make the state partnership mandatory.

The starting point should be that only those societies functions are publicly funded that cannot be arranged effectively or safely without government overseeing. The least necessary public function should produce more well being than the most harmful object of taxation produces harm. Publicly funded functions do not need to be produced publicly if the same or better level of effectiveness can be reached by other means.

Examples of targets of saving on public sector

Operation aid for enterprises

Operation aids distort competition, they add more bureaucracy and do not improve the eligibility of profitable projects. Direct operation aid and tax reliefs should be ended. In the intermediating period the enterprises can be supported in the form of loans.

Wind power feed-in tariff

Energy production aid should be let go and the state should tax external costs from the producers of energy.

Solidium

Investment is not part of government duties

Tax reductions of union memberships

Union memberships should be funded by the members themselves.

Employment services

Employment services provided by public sector is utterly inefficient. Private companies can provide the guidance and employment service much more efficiently.

Earnings-related unemployment allowance

The state should provide basic livelihood for everyone. However upkeeping the standard of living does not belong to core functions of the state. Fiscal funding of the earnings-relate unemployment allowance should be minimized.

Very high pensions

Pensions are by far the largest social income transfer. The system is unjust. Most of the pension funds go to pay off the current pensions, not the pensions of the future.

Pension fund management

The pensions which are regulated by law are being managed by several overlapping pension fund companies. The competition between company is only superficial. The should be only one public system and it should be good and effective.

Party support

The amount of money to be used for party aid must be reduced. The party aid system should be made more equitable so that the amount of party support is determined on the basis of the votes received.

Aid for political youth organizations

Government tasks do not include supporting political youth organizations.

YLE-tax should be voluntary

People should have the right to decide for themselves whether they shall contribute to YLE financing for non-essential tasks.

More transparency on public sector

Enterprises owned by the public sector must have similar transparency requirements as other public operators.
Accounting for non-profit associations and foundations must be transparent.
Misuse of power and corruption should lead to severe punishments. Exposing corruption should be encouraged.
The best applicant must selected to all public posts. Political membership or connections should not be the deciding factor.
Public officials must have a real professional accountability. Officials should always be held accountable for unlawful conduct.
Constitutional control should be developed. An independent constitutional court must be established in Finland.

Healthcare

All citizens must be guaranteed access to health care. Ultimately, access to the necessary health services must be ensured by the public sector. Citizens’ freedom of choice in health services shall be increased.

The adequacy of healthcare insurance and account-based financing models for Finland must be investigated. The public sector can improve the ability of patients to compare service providers via legislation, for example by requiring all service providers to publish their price lists.

Education

The state must guarantee its citizens equal opportunities to develop themselves. However, it is necessary to reduce gradualization, and gifted students should be given the opportunity to study more quickly.

Individuality and pupil’s freedom of choice should be an important factor when developing a school system. The establishment of private schools should be made possible in order to increase the opportunities for alternative schooling options or more versatile teaching methods. The teaching of all schools should be based primarily on the national curriculum.

The teaching content of primary and secondary education should be developed to better respond to the challenges of a changing society. The school should not be teaching individual religions. The school institution should give individuals a wider set of language skills to make them more capable of operating both inside and outside the EU. To achieve these goals, the choice of language studies should be increased from the present. Mandatory teaching of the second domestic language should be abolished.

In university and polytechnic studies, transition from one institution to another and from educational institutions to working life should be made easier. The current focus on degrees should be shifted towards competence focus. The autonomy of universities should be strengthened and political guidance reduced.

All children need to be guaranteed access to early childhood education in order to improve the opportunities for less-favored people and to reduce exclusion.

Science

The funding of basic research must be kept at a sustainable level in order to achieve success in public research in the future as well. The funding base of basic research should be expanded, for example by enabling crowd funding.

As a supposition, research data produced by public funding must be available to all citizens. The release of open data should be promoted.

The topic of basic research should primarily be researcher-oriented. The quality assessment of the research should be based on peer review within the science world. Publicly funded research projects should increase the participation of private parties in order to improve networking between the academic world and the business community.

Immigration

Work-related immigration

Barriers to work-related immigration need to be eliminated. All those who have the opportunity to support themselves should be issued a valid residence permit for an indefinite period. The residence permit must end if a person is unable to live up to his / her own work. All people in the country should have the right to work freely.

Foreign nationals graduating from universities and colleges should be granted more freedom to seek employment. The requirement for labor migration permit needs to be abandoned – the state should not control whether or not a special need for immigrant work exists in Finland.

Humanitarian immigration

Helping people in nearby areas of conflict must be the primary humanitarian goal. The incentives to seek asylum from Finland for non-humanitarian reasons should be removed. The focus of immigration policy should be on quality integration for applicants already residing in the country. It must be possible to apply for asylum for humanitarian reasons, but Finland must be able to limit the number of guests if the integration can not be sufficiently organized.

If an asylum seeker is employed during an asylum process, he shall be granted a valid residence permit for an indefinite period, which will not lapse even if the asylum application becomes a negative decision. Everyone who is capable of sustaining their family should be allowed to bring their family to Finland at their own expense.

The processing of asylum applications should be accelerated by providing sufficient resources.

Foreign policy

Significance of the European Union as an economic union

The EU has an important role in creating a large area of free trade and unifying practices. The EU must focus on securing free trade and free movement. Free trade does not stipulate a monetary union. The EU must not become a wealth transfer union.

Finland should integrate more closely with the EU concerning free trade. Currently trading in various goods, such as vehicles and alcohol, is not on par with other EU countries.

National security

Military defence and ensuring the safety of its citizens are a part of the state’s core functions. Finland must have a credible national defence. International cooperation and integration should be further pursued to strengthen national security. Finland shall apply for NATO membership.

Conscription should be developed so that the needs of defence are better matched with the motivation and competence of conscripts. Conscription of only men should be replaced with a selective conscription covering all citizens and enrollment should be encouraged by raising the daily allowance so that enough people apply for all positions. Refusal to serve must not be punished. Voluntary work for national security must be furthered and supported.

The Finnish Defence Forces’ performance must be developed systematically to meet the demands of ever changing environment and threats. Elevating readiness and cooperation of authorities must be possible in a quick and flexible fashion.

Development aid

Free trade is the best development aid. By cutting down on import restrictions and tariffs it can ensured, that goods produced in developing nations can reach the Finnish market. Obscure and equivocal development aid schemes prone to corruption must be terminated.

Energy

Harm that may come from energy production should be taxed with an adverse tax that is the best cost estimate of fixing the harm caused by said energy production. The state should not mandate which method of energy production is used by supporting certain methods. All the producers which comply with the state regulations should receive a permit for energy production including the companies utilizing nuclear energy. The regulation has be loosened so that it becomes possible to build smaller miniature nuclear plants.

Subventing wind and solar power is not very efficient and distorts competition. The current feed-in tariff system should be abolished

Environment

Nature belongs to all the citizens and the environment should be taken care of. The state should guarantee a clean environment for the coming generations. Nationally important nature reserves should be protected by the state. The party responsible for causing harm to the environment should have full responsibility of also repairing the damages caused by it.

Agriculture must be remodelled

Producers should have a bigger opportunity to personally set the price of their goods. Legislation that concerns direct sales as well as slows down the attempts of the agricultural sector to reinvent itself must be reduced.

The dependence of the agricultural sector on wealth transfers should be reduced and national farming subsidies should be gradually reduced, without endangering the supply. The benefits of a broad national farming subsidy system do not exceed the negatives caused by the taxation required to sustain it. The goal of reducing agricultural subsidies is not to shut down the Finnish rural areas. A more market-driven agricultural sector would put it’s financial resources to more efficient use.

The supply security must be guaranteed. It is possible to do so in ways other than the current broad subsidy system.
Import tariffs on groceries and provisions should be eliminated.
Greater support of organic production distorts production decisions. Production of organic goods should be supported no more than production of any other kind of provisions.            
Farming subsidies shall not be paid based on geographical politics.