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The Finnish Election's basket The Finnish Election's basket
by Thanos Kalamidas
2007-03-18 09:40:05
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These elections in Finland have too many messages and an interesting number of possibilities. Living in Finland for the last decade and having seen a few elections, I would say that these are the quietest over the last few years and the most anticipated in a very unique way: Everybody seems to know the winner.

Watching the whole thing as an outsider I can say only one thing as a fact, this must have been the most expensive elections ever in Finland. I think the last presidential elections were the beginning, but this time the candidates have overdone it. I have never seen so many adverts everywhere before and I trust it has never happened before my arrival to this country. There are so many posters and, most of all, so many, and somehow so long, television adverts.

In the past when getting closer to Election Day you could see the party adverts on the two main private channels but this time it is like you are being attacked by all candidates who seem to promise everything. This is something that might raise a lot of conversations and questions after the end of the elections on how these candidates found the money, although it is strange that just a few weeks ago questions like that started targeting one member of government and her campaign during the last municipality elections.

But back to the elections themselves, the prime minister and leader of the Keskusta (Center Party) Matti Vanhanen, seems pretty sure that he will be elected again despite his personal scandals and his lately patronizing style. I think the bigger success of the man is that he didn’t do anything much, or at least he tried to keep the balance between the two major parties that constitute the coalition government. What will be most remembered, I think, is the role of Vanhanen’s government as president of the EU.

The Finnish government proved very effective, aside from the mistake with Cyprus and Turkey. However, you would credit the mistake more to his advisors and the EU advisors than to him and the Finnish government, since they failed to explain to him the complexity of the issue of having an EU full member country with an invasion army in its land. Not only that, but the occupying army is a candidate country that tries to give legitimacy to the occupation…if that is possible.

So, Vanhanen goes smoothly for the elections, his first actual elections as Prime Minister, holding all the right cards. From the other side, it seems that there is a battle between the…roses, or better between the nominees for the coalition government. The SDP is strong as usual, but without having managed to increase its power and probably still feeling dizzy after Lipponen’s departure. I always had the sense that there were two SDPs in Finland, one was Lipponen’s and the other was the traditional party, yet now without Lipponen I think the Social Democrats have to rediscover their identity and perhaps their cooperation with Keskusta didn’t help much to that.

The SDP party has a red rose as its symbol and Kokoomus, the conservative party, has a blue rose, thus the battle as been dubbed 'The War of the Roses'. From the beginning I heard the whole conversation and I had the feeling that this was a clever marketing trick started by Kokoomus trying to inspire the voters that the conservative are here and they are strong enough to challenge the second place as fiancée next to Prince Charming who’s going to get the Prime Minister’s seat. The young leader of the Kokoomus Jurki Katainen has used every possible method, including the televised adverts being joined by the former leader of the party Sauli Niinistö, another charm of the Finnish politics, showing his full support to the new leader.

The rest of the parties, including the Greens and the Swedish Speaker’s Party, play their usual supplementary roles! The Green Party has long forgotten its environmental role sacrificing all its beliefs, including opposition to the nuclear plants, for a seat in the government and the Swedish Party is another party that tries to find its identity in a new era where minorities are not an exception.

The Left Alliance is another party that lives with one leg in the past and the other leg in the future hoping to become a member of the government, but one thing is for sure, they are really going to miss Suvi-Anne Siimes, their former charismatic leader.

So, the only thing left is to wait for Sunday and see what early present the Easter Bunny brought to Finland. After that, we can start asking question because there are going to be a few!

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