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Finnish municipality elections Finnish municipality elections
by Thanos Kalamidas
2008-10-23 08:43:04
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The next two weeks are having a lot of electoral excitement for all of us and I’m not talking only about the US presidential elections but also the elections in Finland. Over the last ten years I have lived in this country I have lived a series of presidential, parliamentary and municipality elections and in some of them I was involved in the sense that I worked for candidates or parties, so I have some sense.

I think the first thing you notice if you lived a few elections in Finland is something Asa said the first day the posters of the candidates flooded the streets and the transportations of Helsinki; he said; “The woman with the cats again!” How true! In these ten years I must have seen two presidential elections, definitely three parliamentary and I think, I’m not sure, two municipality elections without forgetting two or three euro-parliament elections. As a foreigner and European citizen, permanently living in Helsinki I have the right to vote in two of them. Please hold this, I will return to that later.

But first the lady with the cats, the woman must really love this photo because and, please excuse my cynicism, I have my doubts if this cat is still alive not that I don’t wish for her to be. And then I got a shock myself seeing in a poster a candidate from the Green Party who a few years ago had totally shocked me when in a panel I asked him why the Green Party doesn’t do something about the landmines in Finland and he answered that it is a …tradition!!! What I’m trying to say is that they are the same and the same people again and again, worst of all that they use exactly the same photos in every single election. Here I have to admit that I might not agree in anything with Kokoomus, the right-wing party of Finland, but at least their posters had some inspiration with the graphics.

The posters open up another issue. Posters and leaflets are all around, the candidates themselves standing outside malls, in squares and central streets giving out thousands of leaflets, paper that soon ends up on the street in those and that is tragic if not traumatic since it includes the candidates from the Green Party. Actually I have the feeling that they have the lead and they don’t even have the dignity to use recycled paper, so much for environmentalists.

I think the sign of the same candidates in every single election the last ten years, at least for me, is a sign of no evolution which for a political party and in extent for the Finnish political world is equal to death. Apart from that conversation that started before the election about the money the candidates and parties spending it would have been useful if something was done about that. But then again the Prime Minister himself reassured everybody that everything is fine and obviously that was enough, that the roads are full of papers, that the newspapers and the magazine are full of adverts sometimes in prices that bring a headache, especially in times of serious financial crisis that is irrelevant I suppose.

What they say I’m afraid I cannot help you there since very few of them have anything print in English, personally I have seen only one in the last ten years and very few have internet sites that explain their policies and aims in English. Ovi’s partner site, www.finlandforthought.net, has an extensive report about these sites and links to them, still very few comparing with the number of foreigners who live in Finland permanently and they have the right to vote in this election. Sadly but they are very few especially if you think that the Finnish statistics show that the number of foreigners living in Finland for the year 2007 has reached 132,700 people with the majority of them living in Helsinki and the wider Helsinki area.

These people live permanently in Finland and they have the right to vote in this election. The majority of them speak poorly Finnish, most just enough for a small talk but all of them, one way or another speak and read English. Doesn’t matter how poor this English is, it’s definitely much better than their Finnish; and these people are called to vote. What remains? Not to go, or vote somebody who has the same ethnicity or he/she is also a foreigner ignoring the reality and ideas of the party they represent. Oddly the candidates themselves often ignore what really is going on and what their parties represent otherwise I don’t know what to say when I see immigrants as candidates of a party that traverse the fact that this number of foreigners live in Finland and has made its flag to send them home.

In the last national elections in a televised panel there were participating candidates with foreign origin, some of them not even speaking Finnish and totally ignoring what the party they were representing had to say, sadly some of them emphasizing what they can offer to their ethnic minority ignoring the fact that they were candidates in a national election and of course alienating themselves and probably the ethnic minority they were trying to represent from the Finnish people and worst of all even scaring them. But again this was the mistake of the parties that chosen them just because they were foreigners and they could bring two or three thousands votes.

Oddly nearly 30,000 of those foreigners are European citizens which means that they can also vote in the euro-parliament elections, something that makes you wonder if the Finnish politicians and in extension the Finnish party have realize so they can find ways to reach them without using cheap tricks like a foreigner candidate who ignores the fundamentals of the party he or she represents. What remains? To practice our right to vote hoping that something might change.

   
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AP2008-10-23 21:29:25
I wouldn't vote for her because I would be afraid that she would spend the whole government budget in Whiskas.


Asa2008-10-24 08:42:51
Meow! Saucer of milk at table two ;)


AP2008-10-24 16:35:41
At least I hope that she doesn't feed the cat with too many Whiskas Salmon & Carrots. Though it could save her some jacket reflectors on dark wintry days.


AP2008-10-24 16:39:34
And... matches?


AP2008-10-24 16:52:02
Ah... inspiring stuff.


Hank W.2008-11-01 19:32:34
So, wheres the analysis on the election results. National Coalition as well as True Finns are partying like it was yesterday. The Pravda and Radio Jerevan are writhing in agony because people "voted wrong". Vanhanen is having a hissy fit as usual. The SDP is caught with a parrot. The SFP is looking to change the law to maintain it heavenly mandate in the municipal council. The Greens are running amuck like released minks nobody wishes to make a fur hat out of. Christian Democrats are blessing themselves to be able to steer clear of the shit-flinging and the Left Alliance and the random Communists have gone back to play russian roulette until the EU elections.

Finnish politics hasn't been this much fun since the Yoga Fliers ran for Parliament.


Asa2008-11-03 08:37:18
I think you did it in a nutshell, Hank!


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