Reformlessness Debt: Conceptual Innovation by PM Sipilä

A new political concept emerged today. Uudistamattomuusvelka. My immediate rough translation is reformlessness debt. For clarity, we could also say debt due to an accumulated lack of reform.

In my understanding, the concept refers to a metaphorical debt that has accumulated because previous governments have been unable or unwilling to make reforms. To the extent these reforms are necessary, the debt can be considered a reason for making the needed reforms with a bang, in a hurry, today.

Reformlessness debt provides one way to explain why constitutional considerations have sometimes been neglected. Cause and blame sometimes go hand in hand. If shit happens, part of the blame can be attributed to those who did not make anything at all happen.

The conceptual innovator is Finland’s prime minister Juha Sipilä (or whoever formulated the concept for him). Sipilä responded today to criticism that emerged after Chancellor of Justice and various constitutional scholars pointed out problems in the way the government has sidestepped constitution in law proposals.

Sipilä pointed out as well that the constitutional problems had appeared also before his government and that part of the problem is lack of resources in the ministries. This is correct, though many (myself included) have argued that anti-constitutional inclinations have been particularly evident during his government.

Today Sipilä promised to take constitutional considerations ”extremely seriously”. Some of the measures he suggested surely sound promising. At the same time, it is worth remembering that his government has faced problems in honouring some of its key promises. One of the most memorable promises remains “we will not make any cuts in education”.

It remains to be seen if the government will indeed stop downgrading the constitution or if today’s promise adds up in the government’s honourlessness debt. For clarity, we could also say debt due to an accumulated lack of honouring promises.

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