Wild Man's Shore

Friday, January 20, 2006

Finnish elections

As a Brit living in Finland I have as much a right to vote and comment on the elections as Conan O'Brian. The election has gone to a second round as the incumbent socialist candidate Tarja Halonen did not get enough votes for a 50% majority, so now the contest is between her and Sauli Niinistö who represents the Finnish conservative party (Kookomus). He may get most of the Center Party candidate (current Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen) votes as the latter has endorsed him.

The Finnish president is expected to be something of a neutral figurehead, like a British monarch, and the post has lost much of its power since the Kekkonen "dictatorship" of the sixties and seventies. At the same time, as a politician, people feel the president should express opinions and show some kind of leadership, and Halonen has been criticized for her lack of these qualities. Her re-election looked like a shoo-in last week; now it's going to be a much closer race. Niinistö is a dry, lawyer/banker type noted for his one-time relationship with Finland's Minister of Culture, the former Miss Finland Tanja Karpela (as indeed has Prime Minister Vanhanen; one could play a game of Seven Degrees of Tanja Karpela in Finnish politics). Halonen is (or tries to make herself out to be) a motherly, kindly Moomin Mama, but often her true colours come out, with a reputation for bullying her co-workers and her husband in public.

Many Finns put down "Aku Ankka" on their ballot paper as a kind of protest. Aku Ankka is Finnish for Donald Duck, who is considered a hero by Finns for his "sisu" (rough translation: bloody minded tenacity against all the odds). Personally, I would vote for his uncle, Roope Setä (Scrooge McDuck), as I think he would run a much tighter fiscal policy and would reduce the ridiculously generous social security spending in this country.

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