Oulu Merger Would Have Happened Whether They Like it or Not
New strict government guidelines would have forced outlying towns to merge with Oulu regardless of their decision to do so next year.
The Finnish government has presented strict new criteria for what it calls a ‘viable municipality’ as part of its aim to slash the 336 municipalities that currently exist.
Local Government minister Hanna Virkunen has declared that a municipality must have at least 20,000 residents, at least 50 children in each age band and a job self-sufficiency rate of 80 percent. It has stated that if a local authority fails on even one of these criteria then it should merge with a surrounding municipality. Even towns which meet all the criteria will be financially induced to merge with poorer neighbours.
When these criteria are introduced next May, Oulu will be the only municipality in the ‘New Oulu’ which will reach these stringent criteria. Moreover, research by Kaleva has found that a number of surrounding towns also do not meet the criteria to remain separate municipalities.