Could you explain to our readers when you decided to become a politician?
When I graduated and became a doctor, I was also the mother of small children, and I wanted to be able to influence health care in my hometown and so I decided to go into local politics. I am now on that road.

Did you have strong political beliefs during your youth?
Yes. I have always believed in public contribution.

Was the choice of becoming a “full time politician” difficult to make? Why?
No it wasn’t at the time when in 1987 I was elected member of parliament. The desire to enter into national politics came about already earlier.

How could you present The Finnish Social Democratic Party to our readers who don’t know it?
The SDP is a 100-year-old labour party, an all-round party, which has been very much involved in the creation of the Finnish welfare society.

Has The Finnish Social Democratic Party always been present in the Finnish political life?
Yes, for 100 years, at times in the opposition and for long periods responsible for the government.

If you had to describe this party with 5 words…
Liberty, brotherhood, equality, justice and joint responsibility.

What are the positive and negative aspects of being a politician?
As a politician, I am able to promote matters that are important to me as well as influence them. Being a public figure can be stressful and involves a lot of hard work.

Do you consider it as a profession or is it more than that?
It is more than just a profession – it is about realising ideals and changing the world.

If you had the possibility to totally change your profession. What would you choose?
I am very happy with my present situation.

As the Minister of Social Affairs and Health, what will be your priorities for the near future?
In order to secure the future of our welfare society – to clarify our social security system, secure the funding of our health insurance system and promote the ability to cope at work. For my part, I want to influence the correction of problems in our health care services.

You were already Minister of Social Affairs and Health from 1995 to 1999. Do you feel that the social situation in Finland has changed?
Yes, it has changed. Unemployment has been almost halved but long-term unemployment has not decreased sufficiently. Some members of the population have become excluded.

Why do you think that in Europe people become less and less interested in politics?
Society becomes more complicated; people feel that they are not able to influence things.

How do you explain the results of Mister Tony Halme during the last Parliamentary elections? Do you think that he was elected for his ideas or for other reasons?
He appealed to people who have been excluded and such people who no longer believe in traditional means of influencing matters.