Principles

14:44

The principles of social democracy
Adopted by the 38th Party Congress in Turku, 1999

TOWARDS A WORLD OF JUSTICE

Our ideal of a just society

Social democracy has assigned as its goal the establishment of a society founded on freedom, equality and solidarity. Within such a society, everyone, according to one=s capabilities, contributes to the advancement of one´s own well being and to the furtherance of the common welfare. Every person as well as the environment are cared for. Justice is generated by the balance between rights and responsibility. It is attained in a society based on freedom, a society in which prevail democracy and solidarity, common responsibility. The ideals and the objectives of social democracy reach far beyond the possibilities currently in sight. Dreams, will and political action transform and will transform reality so as to bring it closer to our ideals.

The rise of the labour movement

The organization of the working class into a political and a trade union labour movement gave a fresh orientation to the development of Europe. The Finnish Labour Party was founded at the Turku conference in 1899. It stated as its objective the economic and social emancipation of the working people. It assumed the name of Social Democratic Party at the Forssa Party Conference in 1903. It adopted the socialist programme of the international labour movement and opted for democratic forms of action. Its emphasis on parliamentary democracy and communal democracy along with the promotion of the workers= rights created the distinctiveness of our party from both capitalism and communism. In this day social democracy continues the struggle in favour of the material and moral equality of people against ultraliberalism as well as against social and political conservatism.

Social democracy means reforming

Social democracy aims at reforming society pursuant to the values of socialism. Socialism emphasizes the collective responsibility of the individuals for each other and for their community. The humane values of socialism are rooted deeply into democratic Europe. A popular movement refering to human dignity, the human rights and the sense of responsibility of the individual raised people to the rank of citizens endowed with civil rights, cultural right, social rights and working life related rights.

People must treat each other as equals

All people must have the possibility to develop in freedom and equality. Community awareness, solidarity, and responsible freedom are the cornerstones of the development of society. These values associate the human need of security and the dynamics of the development of society.

SOCIAL DEMOCRACY, THE MOVEMENT OF FREEDOM AND EQUALITY

Our values stand firm in changing times

The decisions taken in the society must rest on lasting values, long term objectives and the will to attain the set goals. As an emancipation movement, social democracy refers to the socialist theories but also leans upon the legacy of the humane philosophy bequeathed by Antiquity, of Christian ethics and of the progress ideology of the Enlightenment. Its values give social democracy the strength and the orientation enabling our movement to pursue the reform of society, to link continuity and change, tradition and future.

Freedom and equality create the possibility to choose

People are entitled to live freely regardless of their personal characteristics or their social and economic origins. Freedom belongs to them in all that does not harm other people, the environment or society. The objectives of social democracy go far deeper than the mere achievement of material equality of the citizens or the granting of formal liberties. In practice, the possibility to choose is, in both material and moral respects, as essential as the right to choose. All, women and men alike, are entitled to equal opportunities to well being, security and participation in decision making at work, at home as well as in the entire society. Culture enables the human being to attain the requirements of his or her personal development and personal control of his or her own life.

Our goal, a society of solidarity

The achievement of freedom and equality implies that no one=s rights violate anybody else=s in any way. The balance between these values is struck when the community assumes the responsibility for its members but also when, at the same time, the citizens take charge of themselves, look after each other and concern themselves with their community as well. In a solidary society, people respect mutually each other=s rights, further equality and common welfare. They do not exploit each other, they do not take advantage of society in pursuit of egoist aspirations.

The environment belongs to all

Solidarity extends beyond the limits of the generations. Mankind is a part of nature towards which it has responsibilities to assume. Protecting the environment and elaborating modes of production which are more sensitive to the environment form a responsibility which is bequeathed by one generation to the other pursuant to the principle of lasting development. All people are entitled to enjoy the diversity of nature and the well being it provides.

All human beings worldwide are equal in worth

The struggle for the right to live in freedom and dignity is conducted all over the world. The international social democratic movement stands up for the oppressed against the oppressor, for the destitute against the power of the stronger. Across the world hundreds of millions live in submission; hundreds of millions know hunger. Despair must be turned into the hope of common responsibility, egoist greed into a celebration of the mind and of solidarity. Internationalism, worldwide community awareness, is solidarity towards the oppressed. It is also peacemaking; it is community awareness breaking through and crossing borders. Neither the force of the mightier nor the power of money and weapons, but universal justice is to rule the world.

COMMUNITY AWARENESS CHALLENGES EGOISM

Norms and agreements decided upon in common protect people

The yardstick of society is the human being. The structures and the procedures of society exist to serve people. They preserve from indifference which disintegrates communities. They avert unbridled competition which inflicts suffering on the weaker and causes destruction to the environment. A state founded on the rule of the law lays down rights and duties protecting individuals and communities against the egoism of capital. People must be equal before the law. Society must be stable and safe in order to allow people and communities, men and women in all equality to form projects concerning their future and unfold. In the opinion of social democracy, laws and agreements are implements of progress for the resolution of antagonisms within society and for the suppression of inequality.

Responsible freedom

In an interdependent and open world, the separate original cultures enrich each other. People clear themselves of their national prejudices to become citizens of a culture, citizens living in understanding within multinational communities. The members of a community are different. The appreciation felt towards the community is generated by the possibility given to each of its members to dream and fulfil his or her aspirations. The sense of integration into and of belonging to the community incites the citizens to commit themselves to the development of their community; which leads to the success of the community. Intellectual and moral sloth, indifference and the pursuit of personal profit are utter strangers to the very spirit of community awareness. Everyone has the responsibility to gather information and participate, that is to concern oneself with the course of events, to the best of one=s abilities. This is how actual equality and commitment to the common aims are to grow.

Participation is a right

With the constantly increasing complexity of the society and the ever expanding size of the organizations appears the danger of the concentration of knowledge and information as well as of decisional power. All people are entitled to equal possibilities to gain and possess, create, evaluate, master information and knowledge. This is a prerequisite for the achievement of democracy and of the development of society. The task of the political movements, of the diversified diffusion of information, of education and permanent education and of the on line information networks is to increase citizen consciousness and participation and to further civil dialogue within the society.

Towards multi level democracy

Modern democracy operates at several levels. Democratic procedures must be complied with at local, national and international level. The intervention of people in their closest community is also the cornerstone of transnational democracy. People are entitled to a position permitting them to influence their own nearest community not only as citizens and voters but also as service users, as workers, as consumers, and as members of their housing community. When people are active in their own communities and networks, democracy is strengthened in the communes and in the regions, in Europe as well as in the entire world.

PARTICIPATION IN THE SOCIETY

The economy must serve the entire society

The growth of material welfare, of security and of culture depends as much on the productivity of the economy as on the just distribution of the fruits of economic activity. If it is placed under appropriate supervision, the market economy is able to cater for the needs of the population. The economy must serve the entire society and the welfare of all the members of the society. Common interest must always prevail over and pass before the quest for private profit. Social democratic policies aim at the pursuit and achievement of this common interest.

Democratic control of the market

In the opinion of social democracy, mankind is an end in itself and an absolute value; it is no commercial wares. The use of the economic resources must rest on democratic control through the intermediary of the markets. Democracy and a prosperous economy support each other=s success. In accordance with the values of socialism, the society has the right to keep a watchful eye on and interfere in the profit created by the means of production, as well as the use made of the latter, their location and their ownership. The workers and the consumers must be granted the possibility to influence decisions regarding the development of the production and of the economy. In addition to their economic activity, the enterprises also have responsibilities to assume in regarding society and of their employees. The markets must operate openly and publicly.

The global market must be supervised

Economy, production and consumption as well as politics, technology, environmental questions and culture interlace so as to form a global social system. As a consequence, the production intensifies, the economy grows, product prices decrease, and for many a country new prospects open. Yet, at the same time poverty and inequality increase within and between countries. In the absence of any regulation, the global economy weakens both democracy and ultimately undermines the capacity of operating of the market economy itself. Regulation must be imposed on the global market, capital movements, and the operations of the multinational enterprises. The international social democratic movement must engage its force in order to remedy the misuses of the global economy.

The welfare society as a safeguard

In the welfare society, politics hold a key position in the activity of the economic system. The structures of the welfare society provide the citizen with many ladder rungs enabling his or her personal development and permitting increased participation. Broad cultural bases and competence, at the origin of which are equal access opportunities to education, liberate human potentials. The services organized by the state and the local authorities increase equality and welfare in the society. The provision of public services is a responsibility of the society. Public regulation, collective bargaining and labour relations as well as collective ownership of the means of production complement the market and restrict the supremacy of the forces of the market.

The achievement of the balance between entitlements and responsibility

The welfare society is a community of liberties, duties and equal opportunities where a balance between rights and responsibility is reached. The welfare society also intervenes where injustices take place, anticipates risks and prepares for their management. People possess the possibility to develop themselves and fulfil their calling, the possibility to manage in the face of hardship and, after the crisis, to start afresh. To the fundamental safety of all belong, besides a living environment guaranteeing their physical safety, the assurance of enjoying basic services and benefits, work related social insurance, and circumstance motivated minimal social security. The possibility of personal development along with the access to culture likewise form an essential part of the fundamental human rights.

Work is an important factor of participation and integration

Social democracy emphasizes the right of all to decent, congenial and substantial employment, to a job in which success is the source of healthy self esteem and security. Work has as its specific feature and significance to produce goods and provide services catering for the needs of people. Work, not speculation, creates the wealth of society. From the point of view of the individual work means subsistence, an activity for the benefit of one=s family or community and for the construction of one=s own and of the society=s welfare. At its best, work gives the human being chances of personal development and of social integration in the community. It enhances both human and social capital.

Increased significance of the trade union movement in changing times

The relationship of the employee to the employer is not to be a submission relationship. The worker must receive his or her share of the profits generated by his or her work, of the economic growth and of welfare. The trade union movement has therefore a significant role to play as the promoter and the defender of the workers= rights and interests. Collective agreements between social interlocutors must have as an end the improvement of job security and bargaining rights, the betterment of working conditions and the enlargement of competence, and to level income differences as well as to add to the stability of economic development. Such are the objectives of social democracy also as regards international trade union action and in the field of international agreements.

The rights rest on human dignity

Our ideal is that of a society in which freedom overcomes submission, humanity intolerance and justice egoism. Cultural diversity and differences between the stages of development reached by any society modify in nowise the objectives of social democracy. These objectives start from human dignity. Freedom, equality, solidarity and peace belong to all, everywhere in the world.