News; News & Events

FINLAND: Campaign for basic income launched

[Vivan Storlund – Suomen Perustuloverkosto (BIEN Finland) – February 2013]

On 1 February 2013 a campaign for an unconditional basic income was launched in Finland. This was a historic moment, as the possibility to present citizen’s initiatives is as new in Finland as the one in the European Union. There is one difference between the EU and Finnish citizens’ initiative. The EU citizens’ initiative is addressed to the Commission, whereas in Finland, it is the Parliament that will decide on the initiatives. So now the initiative has the opportunity to test Finnish citizens’ democratic muscle. 50,000 signatures are required from a population of close to 5.5 million. The result of the first day was more than 3,100 electronic signatures and some 100 signatures on paper forms.

These are the central points in the Finnish initiative:

–  A basic income should be introduced to an amount covering at least the present basic social security entitlements and it should be designed in such a way that it does not reduce the income or entitlements of low-income earners.

– The basic income should be seen as a citizen’s right to an income free of means testing.

– It would secure means necessary for a life of dignity as required both by the Finnish Constitution and international human rights conventions.

– It would secure a comprehensive income to all and in all situations, avoiding thereby that groups of people would be excluded from the social security systems. This is a requirement that has also been expressed by the Parliament’s Constitutional Law Committee during the reform of the basic rights and liberties provisions embedded in the present constitution.

– It should be unconditional, paid automatically to all persons independently of other incomes or choices in life.

The initiative stresses the need for a basic income because of the structural uncertainties in the labour market, caused by the increase in short-term or part-time work as well as different forms of self-employment. In addition, there are increasing problems in combining different social security benefits based on need with other kinds of entitlements, income from work and entrepreneurship. Paid employment and the current social security do not offer sufficient continuity in income. Through a basic income, a more egalitarian and just welfare state can be created. On these grounds Finnish citizens demand that their MPs start preparing legislation for the introduction of a basic income.

As of February 2013, the initiative has 7,500 signatures.

The initiative at the campaign website:

About Karl Widerquist

Karl Widerquist has written 981 articles.

Karl Widerquist is an Associate Professor of political philosophy at SFS-Qatar, Georgetown University, specializing in distributive justice—the ethics of who has what. Much of his work involves Universal Basic Income (UBI). He is a co-founder of the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network (USBIG). He served as co-chair of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) for 7 years, and now serves as vice-chair. He was the Editor of the USBIG NewsFlash for 15 years and of the BIEN NewsFlash for 4 years. He is a cofounder of BIEN’s news website, Basic Income News, the main source of just-the-facts reporting on UBI worldwide. He is a cofounder and editor of the journal Basic Income Studies, the only academic journal devoted to research on UBI. Widerquist has published several books and many articles on UBI both in academic journals and in the popular media. He has appeared on or been quoted by many major media outlets, such as NPR’s On Point, NPR’s Marketplace, PRI’s the World, CNBC, Al-Jazeera, 538, Vice, Dissent, the New York Times, Forbes, the Financial Times, and the Atlantic Monthly, which called him “a leader of the worldwide basic income movement.” Widerquist holds two doctorates—one in Political Theory form Oxford University (2006) and one in Economics from the City University of New York (1996). He has published seven books, including Prehistoric Myths in Modern Political Philosophy (Edinburgh University Press 2017, coauthored by Grant S. McCall) and Independence, Propertylessness, and Basic Income: A Theory of Freedom as the Power to Say No (Palgrave Macmillan 2013). He has published more than a twenty scholarly articles and book chapters. Most Karl Widerquist’s writing is available on his “Selected Works” website ( More information about him is available on his BIEN profile and on Wikipedia. He writes the blog "the Indepentarian" for Basic Income News.

The views expressed in this Op-Ed piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of Basic Income News or BIEN. BIEN and Basic Income News do not endorse any particular policy, but Basic Income News welcomes discussion from all points of view in its Op-Ed section.

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