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The Land of Teflon Geese
by Hank W.
2009-10-05 10:54:02
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"There is no corruption in Finland", believe me this. Not even when you siphon taxpayers money and distribute it into your own party coffers. Because its all been made legal, see and even if its illegal theres no reprecussions.

The Finnish political arena has now for a year been more or less nervous as a very innocent remark by a MP started a scandal threatening the whole political system. In principle, the people elected into the Parliament are required to disclose their funding sources - transparency and all that. Then the whip of the Centre party stated in a TV interview that he won't - why should he - disclose his donors, as theres no legal reprecussions for not doing so? The legislation over party funding and especially its transparency are so full of loopholes that in principle there are no ways to force a politician to disclose where he got the money.

This started a furore as at the same time some equations were made between the Centre party funding and certain business dealings by organizations run by businessmen in real estate development schemes. The PM stated that the MP's should disclose their funding sources, but reports were trickling in very slowly. Different parties came forward wanting to come clean and at the same time started to make all kinds of “privacy” excuses for not revealing their exact funding sources. Quite stereotypically the Left League was at first vocal demanding all parties open their books, but after the Left League was asked of their own funding the excuse was “the treasurer is on summer holiday”.

Unlike political scandals usually, this all wasn’t forgotten over the holidays. The parties started divulging their sponsors but the bankruptcy of a development and investment company started another domino effect. The investment company had channeled several hundred thousand euros towards the Centre party and the bankruptcy court eventually has sued the Centre party to return the monies as misappropriated assets. The business dealings and municipal zoning started to raise questions of corruption, but more was to follow. As the different sources of money were investigated, Centre party politicians were found to be in leading positions in government organizations and foundations that had then channeled money back to the party coffers. Of course the PM doesn’t see any trouble in this kind of funding as it has been "established practice" for thirty odd years.

Now the other parties definitely don’t have unblemished reputations either, after all its a well-known fact the Social Democrats get huge funding out of the different unions’ and the Swedish Peoples Party from the rich Finland-Swedish cultural foundations. Which isn’t technically wrong if the purpose of the foundation or organization in the rules is actually to support political parties. Problem is that in many cases it is not in the rules, which makes it illegal. The funding issues have caused several government organizations to start investigations regarding party funding, and it seems there might be more and more revelations as the whole scene unfolds. Now its bad when the ombudsman investigates you, worse you get investigated by the police, but total panic when the tax office joins in.

Which all has not effected the stability of the government as it might somewhere else. The PM, neck deep in the scandal, is highly unlikely to resign nor to call for a new election. The President’s powers have been curtailed, so she cannot dissolve the Parliament either. There is no need to call up new elections at the moment as there is going to be new legislation passed regarding party funding - hopefully closing all the loopholes and everything will be then quite allright.
The parties now in government and in power are definitely hoping that the whole issue will be over with next year and any moral outrage in the nations’ memory fade by the next so they can step into 2011 elections like the teflon geese with nothing sticking to their backs.

And we all can go sleep again peacefully as “there is no corruption in Finland”.

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