Communalist in Finnish Local Elections
In the city of Oulu in Nothern Finland, communalist Svante Malmström is participating in the municipal elections on a Free Left platform. We interviewed him about the intitative, and the role of communalism in the campaign.
Can you tell us about the background for the election campaign?
In the spring of 2012 I was involved in the upstart of a new left-alliance in my city. It is an alliance between radical green and leftist people from different background and ideological standpoints. One of the things we wanted to cooperate around was the municipal election coming up October 28 this year. Some people - including me - had planned to participate, and it is easier to get heard in the public debate and also to get elected if you are on a list together with other candidates.
What is your role in this election campaign?
I have no specific role in the group, except that I have been responsible for the blog together with another person. I am a candidate together with 21 other candidates on a common program. In the election I advocate my own candidature as well as our common list of candidates and program.
What do you hope to achieve?
My main ambition is to use the opportunity to spread some social ecological and communalist ideas. More specifically my ambition have been to influence the radical left in Oulu with social ecological and communalist ideas. And also to get familiar with the local election system in Finland and to talk everyday politics in Finnish with people. To have a chance to get elected you really need to have been in the public for some years so that people know you, and I haven't. But some of us have, and it seems likely that at least one of us will get elected.
Can you tell more about the others you are running with?
The alliance is called the Free Left. Free here mainly poses that we are independent and don't belong to the Left Party (or any other party). There are some drop-outs from the Left Party involved, and generally speaking radical left people - some green activists, some anarchist, communalists (me), marxists, trotskists and even people from the old communist party. Despite this disparate character of the group it was quite easy to agree on the program.
What are the main points of the program of this initative?
We have a short version of the program called the 10 commandements of the Free Left that is available in English. It's emphasis is on social- and health care. But our democratic and cultural demands are also higlighted.
How influenced is this program by social ecology and communalism?
I have managed to at least influence the democracy part of the program. It is quite radical and communalistic in many aspects. It states that the decision-powers should be brought back to the citizens. It demands the establishment of neighbourhood assemblies with real power. It also calls for the initiaton of a participatory budgeting process.
How is the campaign going so far? What have you been doing, how is the response and is it going according to the plan?
It is going quite ok I believe. I haven't managed to promote myself and my ideas as much as I wanted - it is still hard for me in a second language - but with the group there has been a lot going on and the final sprint is still ahead of us. We have had like "civic consultations" on different topics to collect peoples ideas on how Oulu should be devoloped. We have arranged gigs at a bar to raise money and get attention. Writing to the newspapers and on our blog. Participated in some panel discussions and been a lot in the streets handing out flyers and talking to people. It is hard to measure the response, but most people I have talked to are interested and curios.