Prime Minister Vanhanen’s political advisers propose Esko Aho as Helsinki mayor
Little support for reform of mayoral elections from SDP or National Coalition Party
According to their expression of opinion in yesterday’s Helsingin Sanomat, Centre Party members Jukka Ihanus and Mika Rossi, who are both special advisers to Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, proposed that the City of Helsinki should transfer its highest political power to a mayor who would be chosen on the basis of the upcoming municipal elections.
The writers stated that preparations for such a transfer should be started immediately after Finland’s municipal elections in October 2008.
Mika Rossi noted that the best candidates for the post would be Esko Aho (Centre Party), the President of the Finnish Innovation Fund SITRA, and Mari Kiviniemi (Centre Party), the Minister of Public Administration and Local Government.
Rossi says that the Prime Minister is aware of their statement.
Mika Rossi is PM Vanhanen’s special adviser in economic policy, while Jukka Ihanus is his special adviser in political affairs. Both advisers will also be Centre Party candidates for the municipal elections.
With only four seats in the 85-member Helsinki City Council, the Centre Party is a minor player in the Finnish capital.
Rossi and Ihanus believe that such a reform would increase citizens’ interest in municipal elections. The advisers refer to the City of Tampere’s model of mayorship, which has been implemented successfully, they say.
”Unfortunately the large parties - the National Coalition, the Green League, and the Social Democratic Party - have not accomplished anything in respect to a new administrational structure in Helsinki. They have been happy with the old-fashioned cabinet politics, with mutual agreements on the City’s managerial posts”, the pair of advisers write.
Vanhanen’s advisers propose that the City Council would elect the mayor. According to Mika Rossi, another even better alternative would be a direct election, but such legislation does not exist as yet.
In Helsinki, the Green League has already earlier proposed that the mayor should be elected politically. While supporting Rossi and Ihanus’s opinion, Otto Lehtipuu, the head of the Green group on the City Council, does not understand why Vanhanen’s advisers are expressing criticism against the Greens while there is no reason for it.
The National Coalition Party in Helsinki is against such a new model with an elected mayor. Risto Rautava, the head of the National Coalition Party on the City Council, says that the capital already has a working system.
Kai Kalima, the chairman of the SDP on the City Council, does not see many advantages in the proposed model of mayorship, either. He says that decisions on certain issues will continue to be made by the committees and the City Council also in the future.
City of Helsinki - Mayor and Deputy Mayors
The Finnish Innovation Fund SITRA