This is who I am:
My name is Arseniy Lobanovskiy and I am a 28 year-old immigrant, a renter and an activist from Kaukajärvi. I live in Tampere and am currently working on my dissertation in political science at the University of Turku. I also act as a vice-spokesperson for Finlands Svenska Unga Socialdemokrater, a Swedish-speaking district of the Social Democratic Youth, as well as the Astra magazine’s treasurer and board member.
Over five years ago I moved to Finland from Russia, a country where people and their rights are disregarded. Having met many other immigrants here, and having had some of the same experiences as them, I learned about the many injustices that minorities face in Finland as well. Having struggled with depression for a long time, I realised just how much our lives depend on sheer luck: had I not been so lucky to have a workplace and access to workplace health care, I could have lost everything.
I am often told that I am a dreamer and that ideas I believe in are nothing but a pie in the sky. That even though so many of us are struggling every day, not much can be done to help everyone. Yet studying social phenomena, politics and law for many years has reinforced my belief that the world can be changed. For as long as we keep the hope alive, stay bold and engage in democratic processes, a change for the better will take place.
Finland is a country that I hold close to my heart. I value our democracy, strong public services and social safety net, thanks to which we have one of the lowest levels of inequality in the world. We must never forget that this achievement is a result of many decades of struggle waged collectively by the people of Finland. Injustices and inequalities are far from being completely eliminated from our society, and active political participation is as important as it has ever been to ensure that they are.
This is why I am running for the Tampere city council in this year’s local elections as a Social Democratic candidate. Welcome to the campaign!
Local elections 2021
In my opinion, the vast majority of the people of Tampere, including myself, would never survive without the public services provided by the city of Tampere and its subsidiary companies, from clean water and electricity to social and health care services and affordable rental housing. I believe that the municipal services under our democratic control are our best way to improve our lives and must be constantly nurtured, defended and expanded. Even before the transfer of Tampere's social and health care services to the management of the Pirkanmaa welfare area, the city must invest in raising the salaries of its employees and hiring more staff. Dental and mental health services must be universally accessible to all, free of charge, publicly owned and driven and well-resourced.
A comfortable city based on real equality can only be built by increasing the range of housing types and building affordable rental housing alongside privately owned housing units. Today it is too expensive for many low-income residents of Tampere to live in rental accommodation close to the city center and its many services. At the same time, the availability and quality of services in many neighbourhoods may not have kept pace with the growing demand for them. To solve this problem, the city of Tampere must build sufficiently many units of genuinely affordable rental housing owned by it or its subsidiaries in every area of the city and balance the number of affordable rental housing and owner-occupied housing in all of its zoning decisions. The general principle must be that each neighbourhood has good public transport connections to other parts of the city, as well as sufficient access to public services and nature for every resident of Tampere.
Although Tampere is a multicultural and multilingual city, with 8% of its population speaking a foreign language, the service needs and problems of its residents with a foreign background and those that do not speak Finnish are often overlooked in the city's decision-making. Integration services are fragmented, the city's participation in them is relatively small and access to them is limited to certain groups of foreign-born citizens. For example, although there are more than 1 000 Swedish speakers, more than 3 000 Russian speakers, more than 2 000 Arabic speakers and more than 1 000 English speakers in Tampere, the number of staff at health centers and hospital facilities who speak these languages is shamefully low. The vast majority of children who do not speak Finnish cannot attend primary school in their mother tongue, and upper secondary education in a language other than Finnish in Tampere is not available other than a single gymnasium programme in a Swedish. The city of Tampere can and must invest in solving these challenges so that we can make better use of our cultural diversity by taking into account the needs of minority languages and people with a foreign background.
Achieving carbon neutrality in Tampere by 2030 is not only a morally correct goal, it is the most sensible course of action. Therefore, the city council needs to take a more active approach to this issue by emphasising social responsibility in its procurements as well as reducing emissions though its own service production.
The city of Tampere can and must continue to invest in public transport projects that have been started earlier, primarily to expand ratikka and to improve local train traffic between the city and neighboring municipalities. Our bus network also needs to be developed by increasing bus connections between different parts of the city and introducing electric buses. The quality and coverage of the bicycle lane network must be significantly improved in order to make cycling a more attractive mode of transportation than driving a car. In addition, the growth in the use of electric cars must be taken into account by constructing more charging stations in Tampere.
Apart from transport, the decision-making related to zoning and housing policy at the city of Tampere must always account for the emission reduction target. This means that we have to ensure that every resident of Tampere can access high-quality and clean local nature, irrespective of where they live. The city needs to pursue a more ambitious construction policy: the construction of public buildings and social housing must always use low-emitting materials and more environmentally friendly technology.
The procurement of food for public spaces must also aim for low emissions. The supply of vegan and vegetarian food must be expanded in schools and at other workplaces with a close regard for products’ origin and ethics.
I have considered myself to be a social democrat since my early years, which is why the decision to join the Social Democratic Party at the beginning of 2020 was easy for me to make. I’ve always held strong social democratic values: justice, equality, the importance of solidarity, as well as democracy and international cooperation.
It is obvious to me that without the welfare state promoted by the SDP and industrial relations based around a strong trade union movement Finland would never have become one of the happiest and most successful countries in the world. The achievements of Finnish social democracy include universal and equal suffrage, an 8-hour working day, paid annual leave, the social security system, the universal national health care system, the equality act, primary school and, thanks to Sanna Marin’s government, free secondary education and the goal to make Finland carbon neutral by 2035. The strong position of the social democrats in the municipalities is a guarantee that the foundation of our welfare state will continue to be strengthened and that Finland will have a sustainable future.
SDP’s broad representation on the Tampere city council, city governing board as well as the party’s control of the Mayor’s office ensures that environmentally friendly public transport will continue to be available to all Tampere residents, that carbon neutrality is targeted in new construction and that every citizen has access to the nature close by. Under SDP’s leadership, kindergartens, schools and upper secondary education will operate without any problems and the social and health care services will receive the resources they need. An SDP-led Tampere will pursue a housing policy that improves the availability of affordable rental housing, and the key aims of zoning are to reduce disparities between different parts of the city in terms of access to services as well as to combat segregation.
Promoting carbon neutrality in all public procurement, new construction and the development of public transport.
Well-resourced and universal early childhood education services, schools and upper secondary education
Achieving equality and combating segregation in decision-making on zoning and housing
Strong and publicly owned social and health care services with adequate staffing levels that reward care work with decent pay