Finnish Presidental Election 15/01/2006
Questionnaire published 09/01/2006
1. As President, would you commit yourself to full compliance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations in all your actions?
2. What do freedom of speech and freedom of conscience - mentioned also in Finnish Constitution - mean to you personally?
3. Which one of the following two do you regard to be the more patriotic act for an individual: completing six months of military service or 13 months of alternative service in Finland?
4. In the present situation, what do you consider to be the right and justified length for alternative service in Finland?
5. Do you think men performing alternative service and granted conscientious objector status should be freed from military service during war times?
6. If you are elected to office for the term 2006-2012, are you going to exercise the right of the President to grant amnesties in the cases of the internationally recognised prisoners of conscience held in Finnish prisons?
BJARNE KALLIS (Kristillisdemokraatit - Christian Democrats)
1. I do not know all the details of it, but since it is a UN declaration, I guess I would be bound to comply with it.
2. Real freedom in the true sense of the word. That you don't have to be scared of getting into difficulties because you have an opinion that does not satisfy everyone.
3. It depends on the attitude the person has towards his civil/military service role.
4. The length of both types of service should be shortened.
5. No they should not.
6. I would look into every case presented individually.
HEIDI HAUTALA (Vihreä Liitto-Greens)
1. Sure I would. The UN Human Rights Declaration summarises widely the spiritual capital of mankind and has cross-cultural moral content.
2. It is absolutely necessary for democracy to keep up open and critical debate. When fundamental civil rights are weighed against each other, freedom of speech and freedom of conscience should be rated higher than they are in reality today, for example when weighed against the freedom of religion. The worst scenario is if political leaders try to limit discussion about difficult topics, one way or another. Another threat to freedom of speech is when politics becomes entertainment and the political content is in the shade of personalities.
3.There are many ways to serve the common good and fulfil one's national responsibility. The military service system could be developed to better serve the civil society.
Suomen siviilipalvelusjärjestelmä on rangaistuksenomainen, ja siviilipalveluksen kestoa tulisi lyhentää selvästi. Yhdenvertaisuusperiaatteen mukaisesti 6 kk kesto olisi yksi hyvä mitta harkittavaksi.
4. The Finnish alternative service system is punitive. The length of it should be reduced radically. Following the principal of equality, 6 months would be a reasonable length to be considered.
5. Yes. In modern warfare, the number of soldiers no longer plays a central role.
6. Yes. The imprisoned conscientious objectors are prisoners of conscience. It is a national shame that there are still people held in Finnish prisons because of their beliefs.
HENRIK LAX (Ruotsalainen kansanpuolue - Swedish Peoples' Party)
2. I take it for granted, but for millions it is just a dream.
3. Both are equally patriotic.
4. The way it is now is good and balanced.
5. Every case should be examined individually
ARTO LAHTI (Sitoutumaton - independent candidate)
1.Yes, naturally. The declaration clearly provides central guidelines on providing human rights in practice. Every country should respect and follow it.
2. Freedom of speech and freedom of conscience are of great importance to me. They are fundamental rights of the western societies and culture. These freedoms give potential for a positively pluralistic society to develop.
3. The purpose of national defence is to ensure our country has the ability to defend its independence in all situations. This is the angle from which I look at patriotism. On this basis, for example, the decision to ban landmines by President Halonen was a very unpatriotic act.
On this basis, military service is more patriotic, because it provides basic knowledge of how to defend our country in the case of emergency. Alternative service is useful for the fatherland when it supports the preparedness of (military) defence.
If a person wants to do alternative service because of his conscience, not just to make it easier for himself, I regard that as a patriotic act, too.
4. Alternative service could be shortened, on the condition that an unarmed national defence training could be carried out effectively as part of the training, in a shorter time than the current service length.
5. I don't see any difference between peace and war times. It is necessary to carry out tasks both of military and civilian nature in order to defend the fatherland.
It is a breach of human rights to force someone with a genuine conviction to act against it. If an unwilling soldier is then sent to the frontline, he is probably in a very weak position
6. I think that the power of granting amnesties should be moved away from the President and given to an independent body consisting of experienced lawyers, citizens or representatives of citizen groups and scientists. The composition of such a body should be carefully considered.
TIMO SOINI (Perussuomalaiset - True Finns)
1. Yes, in a way Finland has complied with the Declaration before.
2. To have one's own opinion, but also for individuals to take responsibility for their choices.
3. Both are legal options for carrying out national service, but personally I choose military service.
4. 13 months
SAULI NIINISTÖ (Kansallinen Kokoomus - National Coalition Party)
2. I highly value it. Our forefathers - including my own father - had to fight for it.
3. The Finnish law regards them as equal ways to serve national service. I myself carried out military service.
4. I was there when the current service time length was approved. It is based on the view that in military service you are often on duty 24 hours a day and the work is heavier in its nature (compared with the alternative service).
5. They can be allocated to office and maintenance tasks depending on the circumstances.
6. Possible amnesties are granted on an individual basis.
TARJA HALONEN (SDP - Social Democratic Party)
1.-6. Refused to answer.
MATTI VANHANEN (Center Party)
1.-6. Refused to answer