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Forthcoming presidential elections
by Eva Biaudet
Issue 10
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As the race for the forthcoming presidential election is at its toughest, the main theme in the discussion so far has been the president's powers. The Green League's candidate Heidi Hautala has suggested that the president be stripped from her dejure position, as foreign policy co-leader, but this thought has met with fierce resistance from the the rest of the candidates - Tarja Halonen, Matti Vanhanen, Sauli Niinistö, Henrik Lax, Bjarne Kallis, Timo Soini and Arto Lahti.

Even though the powers of the president systematically have been reduced since the Kekkonen-era, compared to most of the other countries in the European Union, the president of Finland still possesses, both in practice and in an ideological sense, influence. The President conducts Finland’s foreign policy in co-operation with the Government and decides upon her relations with other states and her actions in international negotiations.

However, all international obligations that affect legislation or are otherwise of significant importance are subject to parliamentary approval. The hot topic for the moment is the president's position in the crisis management decision-making. The proposition of the Government which gave the president a veto is found inconsistent with the constitution.

Furthermore, the debate before the actual presidential election is, in my opinion, of great importance. Even though a candidate from a small party does not have the same realistic chance to be elected s/he can make an important input in bringing up topics that are not habitually discussed. Henrik Lax from my party has on several occasions had the opportunity to raise issues such as tolerance and non-discrimination towards people with foreign background.

During the time before an election the average citizen tends to be more interested in politics and will probably learn more about vital political issues than during any other election or period of time. It is a great opportunity to make citizens involved in politics. The presidential election is by far the most popular election in Finland. This year nearly 4.3 million persons are entitled to vote and more than 80 % of these will almost certainly give their vote on the 15th of January.

My greeting to you is to read, investigate, consider, make a decision and vote!

Merry Christmas!

Eva Biaudet has been a Member of Finland’s Parliament since March 1991, she is the former Minister of Health and Social Services and is a member of the Swedish People’s Party.
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