The Finnish Communist Party (SKP or CPF) held its Congress on June 4-5 in Turku, Finland. A hundred delegates from around the country discussed the challenges facing the Finnish people from militarization, attacks on social programs from the right-wing government, and environmental devastation in the Arctic. They expressed solidarity with the Saami people of the Far North and called for more self-governance for them. Also of importance was the impact on Finnish society of the current refugee influx, which is met with racist attacks from the right.
Party Chair JP (Juha-Pekka) Väisänen in his opening report stated that “For the working class, Finnish society is nowadays developing at the beck and call of big money and big business. The political elite and influential parties in Parliament have either bent to the logic of the market economy or have simply given it a blank cheque.” He went on to criticize some on the Finnish left who participate in the government: “Not one of the influential parties in Parliament has clearly distanced itself from policies continuing the transfer of incomes from the poor to the rich. This is because the name of the parliamentary game is to get into government at any price whatsoever.”
He talked about the broad cooperation with many forces for change that has brought thousands of demonstrators into the streets of Helsinki and other cities “to protest because the hand of right-wing policy has sneaked into their wallets and the lack of basic social security, health services and education.” He noted that “The developmental problems of Finland and the rest of the world will not be tackled by subjugating politics to the markets, by government austerity policies and people able only to choose differently named parties from the same neoliberal policy drive. We need politics where people are not just instruments but are the protagonists and purpose of politics.”
Väisänen called attention to working with others: “The CPF is a member of the radical family of the European Left. We also naturally have bilateral relations with communist and workers’ parties in the Nordic countries, other parts of Europe and the world.”
The Congress discussed the rights of refugees in the face of right-wing attacks and efforts to reduce or limit benefits to those who often come to Finland as a result of neoliberal policies and imperialist wars and conflicts.
There were international guests from 16 countries and parties, including the Communist Party USA, many European and Scandinavian communist parties, and ambassadors from Cuba and Palestine. In bringing greetings to the Congress (full list here), Marc Brodine from the CPUSA told the delegates that “The world faces a series of interlocking crises: economic, social, political, and environmental. The capitalist system is incapable of permanent solutions to any of these, though struggles to provide greater services and protections can make important differences to working people. At the same time, reactionary politicians are attacking all gains won through past struggles. Efforts are intensifying to roll back any and all progress made by unions and through social struggles, in our country and throughout Europe – as well as intensifying attacks on immigrants and refugees.” He highlighted the struggle to protect and extend democracy, under attack in the U.S. from right-wing politicians and groups, pointed to the fascist dangers inherent in Donald Trump’s campaign for president, and hailed the signs of positive political change exemplified by the Sanders campaign and other people’s struggles.
The party congress discussed the political situation, endorsed a plan to update the political program of the party during the upcoming three-year term between party congresses, and elected a new Central Committee. JP (Juha-Pekka) Väisänen was reelected Chair. He is also a member of the Council of Chairpersons and the Executive Board of the Party of the European Left.
The Congress approved resolutions opposing neoliberal policies of the European Union, on the direction toward a socialist Finland, for peace and against imperialist wars, for ecological and social sustainability, solidarity and cooperation with immigrants, support for mass movements, and on improvement of social security and reduction of inequality in health and access to health services.
Following the Congress, the Finnish Party co-sponsored, with the Party of the European Left, a conference in Helsinki called the Arctic Initiative, which addressed the challenges facing Arctic nations and peoples from militarization, development, and climate change, and called for greater autonomy for the indigenous peoples of the Arctic, including the Saami people of Finland’s Far North.
Photo: JP (Juha-Pekka) Väisänen, Chair of the Finnish Communist Party.