Fierce opposition to ‘mega-municipality’ plans

A government panel in Finland has revealed proposals for a massive overhaul of the country’s municipal structure, cutting local authorities from 336 to between 66 and 70.

The plans were submitted to the Minister of Municipal Affairs Henna Virkkunen on Wednesday 8th February, but the opposition Centre Party says it will derail any move towards ‘mega-municipalities’.

Some of the country’s smaller authorities have reacted with anger to the cost-cutting measures, which would see them lose their independence when forced to merge with neighbours. Many fear that services would be reduced, and it is unlikely that all areas would undertake the changes voluntarily.

The cabinet hopes that the mega-municipalities will be up and running in three years, but Kari-Pekka Mäki-Lohiluoma, the Managing Director of the Finnish Local and Regional Authorities, said such a tight timetable is unrealistic, adding that the organisation’s own municipal reform plan has a target of 2017.

Centre Party chairman Mari Kiviniemi said they will do everything they can to stop the government in its attempt the steamroll the plans through. “No economic sense can support these proposals for a reduction of municipalities. They will deny services for many people,” she said in a YLE report.