The start of the Helsinki Greens dates back to the Helsinki Movement arisen in 1976. At the latest Municipal Elections in 2008, the Greens became the second largest political party in Helsinki.
The Greens in Helsinki started in 1976 as the “Helsinki Movement” (Helsinki-liike). A group of persons tired of the domineering role of automobile traffic within city planning, which was manifested e.g. in a groundless demolition of traditional buildings, decided to challenge this tendency through participating in the Municipal Elections. The vote, which amounted to 1.7 percent, was not sufficient for getting any representatives into the City Council. Yet the very participation in the elections implied the idea to take part in the municipal decision-making, and thus marked the birth of a novel political movement.
The Helsinki Movement gained visibility and became generally known owing to an unprecedented sit-down demonstration in protest against the damming of the Koijärvi bird lake, and through the lock-in of an empty paint warehouse, later to be turned into a youth and music centre by the name of Lepakko. (Bat). In the Municipal Elections of 1980, Ville Komsi got elected into the City Council as the very first representative of the Helsinki Greens.
The 1983 Parliamentary Election brought to the Greens its first delegates. Kalle Könkkölä was elected from the Electoral District of Helsinki, and Ville Komsi from the Uusimaa Province. In the 1987 Parliamentary Election, the Helsinki Greens got in two delegates: Pekka Haavisto and Osmo Soininvaara; and in 1991 three: Pekka Haavisto, Heidi Hautala, and Hannele Luukkainen. In the municipal elections of 1984 and 1988, the voters remained fairly loyal to the Helsinki Greens, which respectively received 8.2 and 7.6 percent of the poll. The Green League, the political party proper of the Greens in Finland, was founded on 28 February 1987.
Support to Greens Reinforced in 1990’s
The 1992 Municipal Elections marked a breakthrough for the Green League. Suddenly the party had to fill more municipal confidential posts than it had members! The Greens became the third largest group in the City Council, and beside the 15 elected councilmen, the group of the Greens encompassed one councilman of the Liberals. As the result of the negotiations on the confidential posts, Green chairmen were appointed for the Committees on Healthcare, Construction, and Public Transport.
Against the great success at the municipal elections, the result of the parliamentary election seemed disappointing, even though the number of the delegates remained unchanged. All those elected (Tuija Brax, Irina Krohn, and Osmo Soininvaara) were new-comers. The Greens now even participated in the Government, where Pekka Haavisto held the portfolios of the Environment and Development Cooperation.
The 1996 Municipal Elections in 1996 established the status of the Greens as one of the three major parties in Helsinki, with a poll of 18.4 percent. The group of councilmen comprised 16 representatives like before the elections. Besides, the Greens had one Council Deputy Chairman as of the beginning of 1998.
The 1999 Parliamentary Election brought one more delegate for the Greens. Those elected were Tuija Brax, Irina Krohn, Anni Sinnemäki, and Osmo Soininvaara.
In the European Parliamentary Election, Heidi Hautala was elected both in 1996 and 1999. She was the votes queen of the 1999 election with 9.3 percent of all the given votes. Also Matti Wuori was elected in the European Parliamentary Election of 1999.
Greens Become Next Largest Party in Helsinki
The number of the party members of the Greens in Helsinki has been growing since 2000. Several subsections have been established for various parts of the city, and also those for women, young people, and students, as well as one for seniors. An increasing number of various joint events are being arranged, and the members of the Helsinki Greens are extensively applying electronic communication solutions within party activity. At their disposal exist different e-mail lists, a discussion board on the web, a Twitter account in both Finnish and Swedish, a Facebook group and a fan page, and, of course, websites in Finnish, Swedish, and English.
The 2000 Municipal Elections were historical for the Helsinki Greens as their number of councilmen now exceeded that of the Social Democrats, thus making the Greens the second largest party in Helsinki. This was the first time the Helsinki Greens participated in the elections with a full candidate list of 127 persons. City planning turned out to be the most important issue of the elections, due to topical projects such as the General Plan and the planning of the Töölönlahti (Tölö Bay) area. The percentage of 23.5 of the total vote entailed 21 representatives for the Greens.. Pekka Sauri from the group of the Greens was elected Chairman of the City Council.
The number of the seats of the Greens on the City Executive Board increased from three to four. Four Municipal Committees got chaired by the Greens. After Reiska Laine, councilman of the Left League, had gone over to the Greens in the summer of 2002, the size of the Green group rose to 22.
In the 2003 Parliamentary Election the Greens retained their four seats. Johanna Sumuvuori, a first-time runner, came very close to being elected, and she later became a delegate as Irina Krohn left the Parliament in 2006 when appointed CEO of the Finnish Film Institute.
A touch of green was added to the Executive City Board as Pekka Sauri was appointed Assistant Mayor in charge of the Technical Operations by the City.
The rising trend of the popularity of the Greens regressed at the 2004 Municipal Elections and their seat number declined by four to 17. Moreover, the group lost one councilman in the autumn of 2006 as Hannele Luukkainen went over to the Coalition Party.
Towards New Challenges
The 2007 Parliamentary Election, however, marked another success for the Greens as five delegates were elected from the Helsinki Electoral District. The new ones were Outi Alanko-Kahiluoto, Chairman of the Helsinki Greens, and Pekka Haavisto, who made a come-back to Finnish politics. Tuija Brax was appointed Minister of Justice.
When Olli Aalto, the long-term Executive Manager of the Helsinki Greens, took up other tasks in late 2007, Maaria Haikarainen was chosen to replace him. From the autumn of 2007 until the end of 2008, the Helsinki Greens also had a salaried office secretary.
The success of the Helsinki Greens continued in the 2008 Municipal Elections: The size of the City Council group rose back to 21, and the number of votes exceeded the amount obtained in any municipal elections ever. Emma Kari, Mari Holopainen, Essi Kuikka, Sanna Vesikansa, Julia Virkkunen, Tuuli Kousa, and Ville Ylikahri were the new elected councilmen of the Greens. The Greens advanced to being the second largest group in the City Council, and Otto Lehtipuu was chosen Chairman of the City Council.
Voters also supported the Greens in the European Parliamentary Election in the spring of 2009. Heidi Hautala was the votes queen in Helsinki obtaining there more votes than anybody else. Satu Hassi, too, was among those popular in Helsinki, getting the fourth highest vote. Both of them were elected MEP.
The member amount incorporated by the various subsections of the Helsinki Green District Organization exceeded the limit of one thousand at the end of 2009.