Li Andersson, the chairperson of the Left Alliance, kicked off the opposition party’s street campaign at Shopping Centre Iso Omena in Espoo on 15 March 2019. (Martti Kainulainen – Lehtikuva)

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RAISING THE EMPLOYMENT RATE has become a backstop for political parties that is used to draw funds for a wide variety of campaign promises, views Li Andersson, the chairperson of the Left Alliance.

Andersson told Uusi Suomi on Monday that the opposition party is prepared to fund its campaign promises by adopting a wealth tax and increasing the progression of income tax rates.

The Left Alliance has announced that its objectives for the upcoming electoral term include raising funding for education, early-childhood education and elderly services. It has also declared its readiness to overturn the social security cuts made over the past four years and abolish the activation model for unemployment security.

Andersson argued that the activation model has reduced basic social security benefits for more than 140,000 unemployed people.

“We don’t think it’s fair to call a model that punishes people regardless of their activity as the activation model. It has made an already complicated system even more complicated,” she declared.

“The ways how the obligations of the activation model have been defined are wrong.”

Andersson stated that the much-berated model should be replaced with a simpler system that does away with bureaucracy traps, which – she believes – are a bigger obstacle to employment for benefit recipients than incentive traps.

“There are financial incentives in our unemployment security system, but bureaucracy is preventing us from taking advantage of them. At the moment, it’s theoretically possible to earn 300 euros a month without having it reduce your benefits. That’s good,” she elaborated.

Overall, the social security system should be developed in the direction of a universal basic income, according to the Left Alliance. The opposition party has called for the adoption of a basic income of 800 euros a month that would be taxed away as the amount of earned income increases in a way that the system would be funded by people earning more than 3,500 euros a month.

Andersson viewed that the gradual transition towards a basic income-based social security system should begin in the next electoral term with the launch of a new basic income trial targeted not only at the long-term unemployed but also at the self-employed.

“The most common counter-argument against basic income that I’ve heard is that free money makes people passive – that no one would be doing anything if they get money to their accounts without raising a finger,” she said.

“The basic income trial showed that this argument is wrong. The basic income [recipients] didn’t fare worse than the control group in terms of finding employment. That’s an encouraging result, in my opinion.”

Andersson said the Left Alliance is heading into the next parliamentary elections with the objective of winning a two-digit share of the vote – a feat it has not achieved since winning 10.88 per cent of the vote in the parliamentary elections of 1999. The left-wing party has seen its vote share decrease steadily election after election, winning 7.13 per cent of the vote in 2015.

“Our objective is to win the elections. We want more seats and more support,” declared Andersson. “We want to be in the government. Our preferred coalition partners would be the Greens and Social Democrats.”

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi

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