Finnish Greens Enter Coalition With Pro-Nuclear Parties
by Oras Tynkkynen, Green member of Finnish Parliament

The Finnish Greens have not and will not support or sanction any nuclear projects whatsoever.
– Oras Tynkkynen

In 2002 the Finnish parliament voted 107 to 92 to approve a fifth nuclear reactor. Immediately afterward, in protest, the Finnish Green Party Vihreät left the five-party coalition government of which it had been a member of since 1995.

Today, despite being the only party represented in the Finnish parliament that is unanimously opposed to nuclear power (apart from a marginal far-right group), Vihreät recently entered into coalition government with two large pro-nuclear parties – the Centre Party and the National Coalition Party. How can Vihreät reconcile this with its anti-nuclear stance?

The Finnish Greens have always opposed, currently oppose and will continue to oppose building new nuclear power capacity. Its position is crystal-clear although it has not always been successful in communicating that position in the media.

The biggest debate in Finland’s Green Party has revolved around whether it can enter a government that may, or is likely to, give permission to a new nuclear project. While there are slightly differing voices within the party, the mainstream view has been that it should be ready to enter even a pro-nuclear government.

Why on Earth? Firstly, not a single nuclear reactor will be stopped by the Greens voluntarily staying out of, or leaving, the government. The government would still retain its majority even if it lost the support of the 15 Green MPs. The parliament will have the final say in approving new nuclear projects and the pro-nuclear majority would not change regardless of whether Vihreät is in the government or in the opposition.

Secondly, the only way to stop nuclear projects in the long run is to achieve a paradigm shift in energy policy. The party needs to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency ambitiously. Inside the government it will have a better chance to shift energy policy to a greener direction.

Thirdly, being Green is a lot more than opposing nuclear power – providing social security to all, protecting minority rights, promoting energy efficiency and renewables, fighting for gender equality and reducing poverty. As much as nuclear power is opposed, the party has the moral obligation to work for progress in other political fields as well.

Regarding nuclear power, the government program states (rough translation):

“No zero- or low-emission or emission-neutral, sustainable and economically productive energy form, including nuclear power, shall be excluded, but all energy forms will be investigated based on the general interests of the society.”

This tongue-twisting exercise is in verbatim the same formulation that was unanimously accepted by the parliament in 2006. It is also in essence the same that was accepted during Vihreät’s previous government tenure under the previous Social Democratic Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen’s governments I and II. In other words, the new government’s program is not any more pro-nuclear than those of its predecessors.

When interpreting the paragraph, the Greens underline the last part. The government does not ban any energy forms a priori, but rather is willing to investigate all possibilities and draw conclusions after a careful analysis of pro’s and con’s. According to this view, nuclear power is clearly not in the general interests of the society, so more should not be built. The pro-nuclear parties in the government have a different view, but the program does not, per se, mandate or call for building nuclear power.

The Greens have always openly stated that they will vote against any new nuclear projects both in the government and in the parliament. Should the government get an application from the industry for a sixth nuclear reactor, they will keep their promise and vote against it.

Thus the Finnish Greens have not and will not support or sanction any nuclear projects whatsoever.

Oras Tynkkynen first ran for Finnish parliament in 1999 at 21. While not elected, he became a deputy member of parliament in 2003 and when Green MP Satu Hassi was elected to the European Parliament in summer 2004, he assumed her seat, becoming the youngest and first openly gay member of the Finnish parliament.

For more information: www.orastynkkynen.fi

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