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Jäätteenmäki's rivers
by Thanos Kalamidas
2010-03-22 08:23:46
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When you are an outsider Finnish politics give you the sense of total schizophrenia. One day the Prime Minister decides to boycott a supermarket chain because they didn’t have his favourite milk brand when he went for shopping, then a week after he comes with the idea that strikers’ rights should be reviewed making his socialists partners in the government to have the fits and on Sunday he announces zero tolerance to racialism. And this obviously psychotic situation doesn’t apply only to the Prime Minister but it seems that it is some kind of local virus that hits all the politicians and all the political parties if you consider that the Finnish Green Party is the only environmental – supposedly - party in the world that supports the creation of new nuclear plans.

Following Finnish politics the last decade one thing I can say is that all the spectrum of the political parties is on a crisis. Paavo Lipponen was the last of the strong personality leaders; it used to be a joke among the Social-democrats, that SDP was not a social-democratic party but Lippponen’s party and the ideas it represented weren’t exactly social-democratic but totally Lipponen. But it was the same with François Mitterrand’s socialist party in France. But the ear of the politicians that led parties and ideologies finished in mid 80s and most of the European parties gone the very same crisis – the day after crisis – and by the end of 80s most of them had shorted out their problems and with the addition of the word “new” – new conservative, new labour – found new ways to …sell their commence. The Finnish parties are somehow in a deadlock trying to find their way out.

And while the situation in the Finnish political spectrum looks just like the situation in the Finnish golf this time of the year, totally frozen, desperately waiting for the icebreakers to save them there is an open area in the middle of the ice with a boat rocking from left to right from terrifying high waves and this boat is the centre party, Keskusta. The party that holds the Prime Minister’s seat and theoretically forms internal and foreign policy. The word theoretically is correct since a coalition that includes the centre-conservative party, the social-democrats, the Christian-democrats, the Swedish speakers’ party and the Green seems very sensitive and demands many compromises from all sides, occasionally compromises that compromise ideologically the parties themselves. Just the sense that a green party cooperates in a government that plans two more nuclear plants is a small example of the cost the parties have paid for the ministerial seat. Perhaps it came the time for one party to enjoy the full power and for a change act according to their program and the promises they gave to be voted and elected. At the moment doesn’t matter what the social-democrats will say because what follows is a coalition with a conservative government where what they believe about the workers’ rights goes down the toilet when the prime ministers calls for a review on the strikers’ rights.

But going back to the centre party; Keksusta is only by the name centre party, in truth it is an inclusive conservative party that might have some percent from the conservative liberal but it is mainly a typical conservative party. Actually it had all the chances to become a modern conservative party a few years ago when Mrs. Anneli Jäätteenmäki was elected to lead the party, won the elections and survive as prime minister for three months only. Mrs. Jäätteenmäki was treated the most unfair way from the Finnish political spectrum but mainly from her own party. The most difficult moment of her career as Prime Minister she was left alone without any help on the contrary attacked from inside because of a monolithic and anachronistic law from the era of the cold war and the Finlanization. That’s the bitter truth about this very short career that led Matti Vanhanen and his milk problems to the Prime Minister’s seat.

Anneli Jäätteenmäki this weekend announced that she’s not going to be candidate for the leadership of Keskusta and to my opinion with this move she didn’t only save herself from the disrepute of the Finnish political life but she gave an example of dignity to the Finnish politicians. Heraclitus words “you cannot step twice into the same river” sounds very sibyllic when it comes from her mouth. Did she mean the leadership of the Keksusta, the Keksusta itself or the internal politics? After a decade and having met most of the Finnish politicians I have to say that Mrs. Jäätteenmäki is the one who impressed more than any other despite our ideological differences. A woman with an aura of power and change that was a victim of petty politics and questionable agendas still not clear. Actually this is another sign of how much transparency the Finnish political life is lacking and to me equally serious with the latest cover up regarding the parties’ funding. But hopefully history will vindicate Mrs. Jäätteenmäki and at the moment keeping away is the most honourable thing for her legacy.

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