Helsingfors med kringliggande kommuner behöver i dag ett gemensamt direktvalt parlament. Annars kommer storstadsregionen att få svårt att hantera och fatta beslut i frågor där motstridiga intressen finns. Det anser professor Arto Haveri och lektor Jenni Airaksinen vid Tammerfors universitet.  

The Helsinki metropolitan area, consisting of fourteen local government areas, is the most significant engine of the national economy in Finland. However, the capital region cannot carry on with its current governance system, characterized by loose intermunicipal cooperative bodies. In particular, the problems related to housing, land use planning and traffic are culminating. To be able to fulfill its task as the economic motor, the Helsinki region necessarily needs to adopt a more efficient system of metropolitan governance, a directly elected metropolitan assembly with power to make decisions on conflicting issues. This is the main conclusion of our Tampere university research report on metropolitan governance, which was published last November.   Comparative analysis The study was commissioned by the current Minister of Housing Jan Vapaavuori and the then Minister of Public Administration and Local Government Mari Kivinimemi (currently Prime Minister). It intended to bring more information and international elements to the current discussion on the development of the Helsinki region. The report, which is also linked to the government's report to the parliament, compared objectives, structures and decision making processes of metropolitan areas internationally. In the final phase of the study, we compared four different models, Stuttgart, Dublin, Oslo and Montreal and presented an analysis on how well these models could be adapted to the Helsinki region.   We argue that none of the compared models could be applied as such, but would need to be adjusted according to the specific needs of the Helsinki region. Compared with the current situation, the most appropriate model is the Stuttgart model, where some metropolitan wide functions fall within the competence of a metropolitan assembly. Applied to Helsinki, this would mean that at least such policy areas as housing, land use planning and traffic should be taken care of by a hierarchical metropolitan assembly. The program based steering, used in the Dublin region, could be used in coordinating traffic in larger areas of southern Finland. Proactive and citizen-oriented In developing the model we relied on two principles, namely proactive governance and self-governance of local citizens. Proactive governance means ability to build the future proactively, which is an opposite of reactive drifting and small incremental improvements. The principle of local self-governance stems from the idea that people should be able to affect their local environment, and the matters ought to be handled by the lowest competent institution, which is not necessarily always the local municipality.   Ambivalent attitude In the Helsinki region, there is a growing need to create transparent platforms, where continuous interaction between different actors is possible. In the discussions, there seems to be two alternative ways of strengthening the metropolitan level: to merge municipalities or to create a metropolitan level structure run by a council, chosen by the citizens of the metropolitan area. Mergers are politically sensitive and in January this year it became clear that the first phase – to merger Helsinki and its neighbor Vantaa – is not proceeding. The failure of this merger keeps the discussion on metropolitan level governance alive.   The municipalities in the region have an ambivalent attitude towards metropolitan governance. They admit that the time-consuming and fragmented governance model needs substantial updating, but at the same time they are not ready to hand over part of their decision-making power to a metropolitan body. Thus, it seems that to become reality, the metropolitan governance needs strong support from the central government. The general elections this spring are an important future step.   Arto Haveri, professor Jenni Airaksinen, senior lecturer University of Tampere, Finland

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