We need a politics of hope. Since SYL’s political platform for the parliamentary election was drawn up, this sentence has been thrown around a lot at the office. The drafting of the political platform culminated in its launch in July, when we highlighted the following questions, among others: Why is it important right now to awaken young people’s hope and have a fair generation policy? How do we want to promote a better generation policy in next year’s election?
We think it is clear that each generation faces its own, unique challenges. What, then, are the challenges that the current generation of twenty-somethings have faced? I have preached this same message before, but I often think about how those in my age group were 13–15 years old when the financial crisis hit. That is part of my experience base, so it is easy to compare other situations to that time.
It is at the age of 13–15 that our thoughts and dreams for the future first begin to take shape. We have grown up and reached adulthood at a time when the core message of politicians and leading social influencers has been “things are bad now, but just wait and see how bad they will be in ten years’ time.” A time when the headlines have been screaming: “We’re broke! How will Finland survive?”
No wonder, then, that young people in particular begin to wonder what will happen to them, and whether they will manage. The financial crisis is now over, but its influence on attitudes and expectations for the future will be far-reaching. I believe it is important that this background is kept in mind when reading the political platform.
The financial crisis also created a foundation for the circumstances that have enabled e.g. Putin, Trump, Erdoğan, Duterte, Orbán, Modi, Maduro and Kaczyński to gain or cling to power. We have entered a period where authoritarian leaders around the world are prepared to bend and twist the principles of democracy to breaking point in order to get as much power and money as possible for themselves and their entourage. When we add the unavoidable approach of an environmental disaster, it feels like crises and scandals have become a permanent part of our everyday lives. Being gloomy is not the answer, but we should be aware of the underlying facts.
When faced with these kinds of problems we need movements that speak a different kind of language. A language that creates hope. We believe that this platform will take on this challenge. I hope that it will be the kind of progressive platform that young people want and need. A platform which can reflect our dreams and needs. Through our political platform we particularly want to highlight how political decisions affect young people and future generations and what kind of decisions are badly needed in relation to generation policy.
For us, the upcoming parliamentary election is about coming together to say NO to this decade, which has weakened the foundations of our education system and YES to a progressive future where everyone has equal access to education. It is a matter of sufficient student housing and an adequate level of income. We believe that everyone should have the right to sufficient social security when the situation requires it. We cannot foresee the future with any certainty, but we know what the current needs are.
For us, it is also a matter of internationality, health care, mental health and the European Union – different segments of politics which we think are important to students.
We particularly want to highlight the fight against climate change. We are poisoning our own home, and time is running out. Because of climate change, the world-wide divide between winners and losers is growing. It is a dystopia today, here and now, which we must stop. Action is required.
The longer we wait, the higher the price will be, and the faster the required action must be taken. We need everyone, from all parties and NGOs, to join this battle regardless of the area they work in. This is a battle we cannot afford to lose – no matter how much Donald Trump wants us to.
We believe that these measures are the best kind of generation policy. Enough has been taken out of the pockets of young people. We have to guarantee sufficient resources for ourselves and those who come after us so that we are able to believe in our dreams. Sufficient resources so that we in turn can support those in our society who need help. Now is the time to act!
I believe that I speak for many student and youth organisations when I say: we need you to be an ally of generation policy! So remember this: a good ally of generation policy believes that future generations should also have the right to free education, a liveable and varied planet, as well as a fair working life, despite the transformation of working life.
President of SYL