4 pm today is the deadline for local governments throughout the country to state their position on the government’s comprehensive municipal reform plans. The majority of the country’s 366 local governments have already returned their statements to the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Government.

The planned reforms will reduce the total number of local governments on mainland Finland from 320 to 70. The plans, which also allow for mandatory amalgamations of local authorities, have met with widespread opposition. One fear is that many people’s access to services will be jeopardised when there is a far greater distance from their local authority, which in some cases will be as high as 150 kilometres. But defenders of the reforms say they are the only way to put an end to the endless debt and mismanagement in which many of the country’s local governments are mired.