Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Nurmo municipality in memoriam

The sorry spectacle of the current local government "reform" has now reached my home town of Nurmo which will be amalgamated with the provincial capital by midnight. An efficient service provider with better performance in every key statistic will join with a much bigger, less efficient and more bureaucratic unit. On the national level this so called reform will certainly achieve bigger service organizations - though in quite random and ragtag fashion - without touching the very heavy structures of the services itself. Some haphazard savings will probably be made but the fundamental issues will be left untouched. This is the democratic political process at its sorriest: every main party was driven by its special interests towards a different overall solution with the end result being even worse than any of the proposed individual schemes.

The process in Nurmo was especially repulsive: a strong and active citizen opinion (almost two thirds in a well attended municipal referendum opposed the solution) was overruled by the morally - one hopes only that - corrupt local council which ended up agreeing with the proposal by one vote majority. The amazingly ugly strong arm tactics led by the leading provincial daily ended up successful. The Burkean in me simply detests abstract, arbitrary principles being chosen over actual historical experience, a deeply rooted local identity. But I suppose our Scandinavian governmental system is one of the least Burkean in existance. From that angle it is inconceivable that local identities would be important as such, that the coats of arms, lines and names on maps, shared historical experiences would be just as important to people as the municipalities' role as social service providers. Any more Burkean reform would have respected and kept these valuable symbolic forms while reforming the substance carefully and effectively. Now we ended up with the worst of both worlds: losing the local rooted identity and keeping essentially in place the top heavy service delivery structures. Oh well, the way of the world...


Postscript in Finnish:

Ilkka-lehden toiminta tässä surkuhupaisassa prosessissa hakee vertaistaan. On toki totuttu melkoisen ruokottomaan menoon sen suhteen, mutta tässä silmittömässä kampanjassa kyllä välillä jätettiin väliin ne alkeellisimmatkin ammattimaisen journalismin periaatteet. Toimituksen johdossa on aktiivisia toimijoita ja vaikuttajia Seinäjoen kunnallispolitiikassa ja journalistiset toimintatavat näköjään alistettiin näiden vaikuttajien henkilökohtaisille poliittisille intresseille. Tätä ei mitenkään lehden kommentti-artikkeleissa edes vaivauduttu peittelemään. Uutisointi oli äärimmäisen värittynyttä ja manipuloitua ja prosessista annettu kuva ilmeisesti aivan tarkoituksellisen vääristynyt. Karua on meno Hokkas-slovakiassa. Nurmon valtuuston toiminta on sitten saaga erikseen - toivoa sopii, että romahdus oli sentään vain älyn ja poliittisen ymmärryksen tasolla. Epäilemättä joka tapauksessa tämän räikeän epädemokraattisen enemmistön kirstuun poikii jatkossa myös maallista hyvää erinäisten postien ja arvonimien suhteen. On ilmeisesti poikinutkin jo: hyvä taito osata nöyrästi kumartaa oikealle ja pyllistää oikealle taholle vaikka sitten tämä jälkimmäinen olisikin se jota vaaleilla valittuna olisi pitänyt edustaa.

2 comments:

Dihturnoaidi said...

While earlier governments have attempted similar constructs of the smallest counties in Norway, the latest trend is not to legally bind them into singular entities, but to foster cooperation between counties. This has been most successful.

stockholm slender said...

Sounds sensible. I would have myself strenghtened the provinces and left only a certain part of the local service delivery and other sense making duties for the local municipalities - in connection with a serious reform of the top heavy structures. That would have kept what was important and well functioning in the ole setup and at the same time reformed the system comprehensively. Now we won't get either, such a predictable, inefficient mess.