The number of online signatures supporting the municipal referendum initiative on the continued aviation use of Malmi Airport has already exceeded 10,000. In total, almost 28,000 residents of Helsinki have signed the initiative by now.
The 4%-of-population support minimum set in the Municipal Act for bringing referendum initiatives to the City Council was already exceeded in November 2019. At that time, the current chairmen of Helsinki City Council political groups publicly announced that they would support having the referendum. The initiative is likely to be delivered to the new City Council in due course after the results of the municipal elections in April 2021 are in. Before the elections, the candidates’ positions on having municipal referendums will also be surveyed.
The two biggest municipal initiatives in Finland concern Malmi Airport
Municipal initiative 6466 is by far the most supported municipal initiative in Finland, with more than double the support of the second-biggest initiative. That initiative to keep Malmi Airport in aviation use, rejected by Helsinki City Council, garnered 13,197 supporters. The new initiative proposes a referendum on the issue. Lex Malmi, a citizens’ law initiative that was open to all Finns, garnered 56,067 supporters in just two months, but Parliament failed to pass legislation to protect Malmi Airport on grounds of form.
Should municipal initiatives be removed from the law?
The Municipal Act guarantees the right of the residents of a municipality to file initiatives concerning municipal matters. If the initiators represent at least 2% of the residents of the municipality, the matter must be considered by the municipality within six months of the initiation of the matter. In addition, 4% of the municipality’s residents (15 years of age and older) have the right to file an initiative to hold a municipal referendum.
If the Council rejects such a clear initiative from the citizens, examining the Finnish civic democratic system critically is in order. The residents’ right to have their voice heard by initiatives, guaranteed by the Local Government Act, cannot be dead letter legislation, or if it is, it should be struck from the law.
Opinion polls can be verified by referendum
Several opinion polls have been conducted on the aviation use of Helsinki-Malmi Airport. The majority of Helsinki City Councillors have not taken the results into account, but contrary to the wishes of the citizens, their aim is to convert the area of Malmi Airport into residential use. The matter has taken on enormous proportions in the civil service, as the City’s organization has even presented falsehoods about the matter.
In 2020, Helsinki-Malmi was the busiest airport in Finland in terms of operations. Even so, most of the supporters of the continued operation of the airfield are quite ordinary Helsinki residents and Finns: there is a small fraction of pilots among them. Residents of Helsinki especially appreciate the cultural environment, natural values and fascinating aviation environment of Malmi Airport. Aviation operators have been trying for years to seek consensus on combining aviation and housing construction, but the city has not agreed to discuss the matter.
Municipal initiative on having a consultative referendum on the aviation use of Malmi Airport (for Helsinki residents): https://www.kuntalaisaloite.fi/fi/aloite/6466
Finland’s biggest municipal initiatives: https://www.kuntalaisaloite.fi/fi/hae?orderBy=mostParticipants&show=all&type=all
Further information: www.malmiairport.fi