1. Lasting value base of Christian democracy
The Christian Democrats want to ensure that our democratic society is built on Christian values. By Christian values we mean the universal and lasting values which arise from the Bible and the Christian heritage, and form the basis of a good, functioning community.
The value base of the Finnish Christian Democrats defined in this programme emphasises respect of human dignity, the importance of family and close communities, defending the weak, encouraging resourcefulness and individual and collective responsibility, not just for themselves but also for their neighbours and the rest of creation. Membership of Finland’s Christian Democrats is open to everyone who agrees with these values and aims.
2. Principles of the Christian Democrats
Political decision-making is all about our values. The decision makers’ values are seen in the choices they make which are then reflected both in laws passed and in economic decisions. Experience has shown that society doesn’t function healthily if it rejects the universal ethical base of the Ten Commandments and the golden rule of loving one’s neighbour.
The Christian Democratic movement was born in several countries to defend these enduring basic values. Finland’s Christian Democrats is part of this international, diverse Christian Democratic movement.
On the basis of its values, the Party seeks to influence and serve every area of society. It does so through the party’s local organisations, young people’s, women’s, Swedish language and immigrants’ groups, alongside the work of the central party office.
The word “Christian” in the party name refers to a deliberate attempt to further basic Christian values and act on them in societal decision-making. The Christian faith is not a political ideology, but Christian democracy is. The Christian Democrats aim to justify their views in such a way that everyone, regardless of their world view, can understand their reasoning.
In politics our emphases are different from those of the churches. As a political party, the Christian Democrats do not take a stance on doctrines of the churches or other religious groups. The Christian Democrats pay attention to the societal-ethical statements made by Christian churches and congregations but remain independent in political decision-making.
Societal questions often have several different solutions which can be justifiably pursued or defended. In seeking such answers we have to be as unprejudiced, co-operative and creative as we can be. Scientific research is needed, but it is insufficient to form the basis of decisions. We need decision-makers who represent the will of the people but who evaluate affairs holistically and from the point of view of different groups in the nation. Decision-makers have to examine the issues carefully, listen respectfully to people’s views and to the best of their ability try to fulfil the promises they made in the election campaign.
Whenever possible, the Christian Democrats want to co-operate with groups whose aims are similar, for we recognise that it is possible to come to conclusions close to Christian Democratic thinking from other value bases. The Party wants to arbitrate in conflicts of interest and build mutual understanding between the different sections of our society.
The word “democratic” in the party name refers to the fact that the Christian Democrats want to further the way democracy functions in an active citizens’ society. We want to ensure that all those eligible can choose their local and parliamentary representatives in free elections to make decisions about common affairs. It is necessary to have openness and public discussion in political activity, so that voters can evaluate the candidates and how they act in decision making.
Without permanent values, the consciences of even the majority in society can be mistaken with serious consequences. We must not take moral relativism as the basis of democracy. So, instead of pluralism and relative values, the Christian Democrats emphasise that fundamental life-protecting values apply to everyone.
Democracy is only a tool. The populace can find public administration burdensome if political decision-makers exploit it to their own advantage and not for the benefit of all. Christian Democracy opposes all forms of totalitarianism and concentration of power that is outside the influence of ordinary people. Hence, the sharing of power between the legislative, executive and judiciary branches, together with a multi-faceted media prevents the concentration of power in the hands of single decision-makers or groups.
3. Every human being is unique
The central value of the Christian Democrats is human dignity, based on God’s work of creation. Everyone is a unique and indispensable individual. Human dignity is based on a person’s being, not on their doing or abilities. It is priceless, regardless of gender, age, position, religion, origin of birth or other criteria.
Human life and dignity is to be respected right from conception to natural death. The starting point of Christian Democrats is always to be on the side of life, be it in the use of human embryos, abortion or euthanasia. Respecting and protecting life must be the principle also when defining the limits of scientific research.
According to the Christian democratic view of humanity, a person is the sum of his or her physical, psychological, spiritual and social aspects. Everyone should be enabled to grow in a balanced way in all these areas of life.
Acknowledging human dignity leads to human rights which have been listed in documents such as the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, on children’s rights, on removing discrimination against women. Basic needs, such as food, housing, a safe environment, health care and education as well as work to provide an adequate livelihood must be secured for everyone. The Christian Democrats want to cherish all the above, and will act particularly on protecting the rights of those who are treated contrary to their human dignity.
Human rights are always connected with obligations and responsibilities. The right to life brings with it the obligation to protect it. To the right of freedom of expression belongs the obligation to be honest. The right to education means an obligation to self development. Also, from the right to have an adequate livelihood it follows that an individual is responsible for seeking employment, provided the person is able to do so and work is available.
A totally self-centred view of freedom often means freedom only for the strong while the weak are left bereft of it. Christian Democracy emphasises that human freedom and responsibility are inseparably interlinked. Every human being is responsible for their chosen actions not only to other people but also to God. Because every human being is imperfect and fallible, we need continuous self evaluation. This also concerns the Party as a community.
4. Family – society’s basic unit
The family is everyone’s first community – a place where one grows up to be a member of society, to take responsibility for oneself and others. At home, children and young people should experience basic security, lasting values and a good start in life. The family is a society’s basic unit whose well-being or malaise affects the whole of society.
Legally, the family consists of couple or mother, father and children, either biologically or socially, or a single parent and his or her children. Thinking extensively, the grandparents and other near relatives also belong to the family, although they may not live in the same household. A person living alone can be thought to belong to this family community formed of near relatives.
The Christian Democrats hold the view that marriage, based on a woman’s and a man’s equal companionship, is the best form relationship for a couple. A good marriage is built on mutual love, respect and responsibility. The society should favour attitudes that further faithfulness and commitment.
A marriage is also the best relationship in which children can develop. Parents have the right and a duty to bring up their children, which society should support by its own actions and legislation. Parents need time and be able to take part in a child’s life. With various family allowances we must create the prerequisites for a balanced family life and for the families’ own choices and, for example, different forms of children’s day care.
The mutual relationship of the parents is the basis of the child’s real home. Its permanence and well-being are important. If this is not realized, a society has to help the children, and the adults raising them, in such a way that the children suffer as little as possible from a parent’s inadequacies or problems. Those caring for children, be they single parents, joint custodians or the parents of families formed from previous marriages need society’s full support.
Legislation must safeguard as every child’s starting point the right to a mother and a father. A same sex registered relationship must not to be considered equal to a marriage.
5. Joint responsibility for our neighbours
A society’s values are shown by how it treats its weaker members, such as the elderly and the disabled. Responsibility for needy members of the community is based on the command to love our neighbour as ourselves. It can be called the principle of joint responsibility. Acting for the common good and on behalf of the weaker members of our society comes before self interest. Joint responsibility is the result of people’s attitudes and life decisions. A just and caring society is not born unless individual citizens take other people into account in their decisions.
The principle of joint responsibility extends beyond the borders of our home country. Wherever there is oppression and injustice we must work for change that furthers the realization of human dignity. It is characteristic of the Christian Democrats to take responsibility for those living in great poverty in developing countries, the victims of wars and natural catastrophes and refugees. The responsibility reaches also to future generations. We must build our society socially, spiritually and ecologically enduring so that the life of future generations will not suffer because of the choices we make.
6. Citizens’ activity promotes well-being
In the opinion of the Christian Democrats, decisions must be made as near as possible to those they affect. The use of power ought always to be decentralized when it is reasonably possible. According to the principle of grass roots decision-making, the responsibility for furthering the common good must be shared in a balanced way between the authorities and public sector and people’s free alliances as well as between a family and individuals.
The society ought to assist its citizens to take responsibility for themselves and close relatives. In a hierarchy of decision- making a higher player must not carry out the task when the lower one is able to get the work done himself. But the higher player must always to support the lower one. This principle springs from the demand for joint responsibility. Accordingly, those people, families and communities who need help to get through are entitled to have support. Through the help and the way it is implemented, our aim must be to enable the needy to get quickly on their own feet whenever possible.
The Christian Democrats emphasize the central meaning of citizens’ activities as part of a functioning welfare society. The state and local authorities are to support the activities of our citizens’ society and not replace it. We must promote the citizen, community initiatives and freedom expressed responsibly. Society’s support must treat different, comparable communities impartially, taking into account to what degree they advance the common good and enduring values. All players are to take equality into account, and so understanding this must be increased in all decision-making and administration.
In addition to local government, the state and the European Union must also support the citizens’ society. Finland’s Christian Democrats want to develop EU-level co-operation only in issues where the EU promotes the common good or enables greater national measures to advance well-being and security. This means strict commitment to the principle of grass roots decision-making. Accordingly, the EU will use its jurisdiction only if its activities produce additional benefit to the member countries’ national activities. The Christian Democrats appreciate the importance of international associations such as the United Nations for security and for furthering worldwide well-being.
7. The ground rules of a just economy
The Christian Democrats are in favour of a social and ecological market economy where the society sets the framework that regulates economic activities. A social market economy defines the values of its activities respecting human dignity. It seeks the common good and looks after the interests of both producers and customers. An ecological market economy takes into account nature’s resilience and acts on its terms.
Honest entrepreneurship and other work create a basis for financing welfare services. The Christian Democrats want to promote entrepreneurship and create in society an environment that encourages and values it. There should be no extremes in property, salaries or perks. Private ownership and the right to inherit are an important part of an individual’s and a family’s independence.
Workers have to be treated with respect and not as means of production. They have the right to form unions and through them watch over the interests of their job contracts, ensuring that they earn a reasonable livelihood. Work of equal value must bring equal pay.
The public sector has a primary role in producing basic services but it is good to supplement it with private services. In some areas of production state ownership must have priority because it is connected with a great public service which is important for society’s welfare and safety.
8. Responsibility for the environment is an obligation
The value of creation comes from its Creator and obliges everyone to take responsibility for the environment. The Christian Democrats want to secure a clean and balanced environment for coming generations. Animals must be treated well, and the countless species of living organism have to be protected from becoming extinct. Pollution of water, land and air must be reduced considerably and we must be capable of controlling global warming.
9. International co-operation brings peace
The Christian Democrats have a positive attitude to international co-operation and also want to work in furthering basic Christian values in the European Union and in international politics. Finland’s Christian Democrats (KD) is a member of European People’s Party (EPP). It is important that there is close co-operation particularly between Nordic Christian Democrats’ sister parties. Finland’s Christian Democrats want to renew and crystallize the values of the international Christian Democratic movement.
Cherishing a peaceful and stable international environment presupposes co-operation with other nations. Healthy nationalism, valuing the work of previous generations and the inheritance of our own culture create a good basis for meeting people coming from different cultures. A positive attitude to other nations and immigrants is a characteristic trait of Christian Democrats. The Christian Democrats have also always been interested in the events of Middle East and in the position of Israel.
The worldwide integration of the economy creates new markets and economic co-operation, but it challenges countries with a high income and social security to adjust to a new kind of work- sharing when there is competition in investment and jobs. In spite of the challenges to adjust, the Christian Democrats support deregulation of the world economy in such a way that the less developed countries’ economies can also grow.
The Christian Democrats work in order that human rights would be respected everywhere and that both women and men would have equal possibilities to influence social affairs. We must increase the work and effectiveness of international organisations, above all the United Nations and its organisations for peace, human rights and other aims which further the world’s well-being.
Peace is largely the result of justice; poverty and injustice lead to war and to the destruction of natural resources. We must quickly reduce extreme poverty in the world and prevent deaths that are caused by malnutrition, lack of clean drinking water or easily preventable diseases. All children must have access to education. Rich countries must help the inhabitants of developing countries to rise from their distress to a life of human dignity. The Christian Democrats are committed to the UN’s millennium goal and to increase Finland’s and the whole EU area’s development aid to 0,7 percent of their gross national product.