giovedì 3 marzo 2011
Thoughts on upcoming Finnish elections.
So far, I hadn't had the chance (nor the will) to peek into the Finnish political life.
Until last Sunday.
I was in Helsinki for THIS wonderful experience (which would deserve a post on its own, if I ever find the willpower to write it down) and enjoying my late morning breakfast after a far too short sleeping night following a very pleasant and very long tango day.
I noticed and grabbed a copy of a local English newspaper, just to enhance the experience, and my eyes began to wander in the politics section.
And so I learned about Timo Soini and his True Finns party.
Just a little bit of context for my non-Finnish readers (data mostly taken from Wikipedia and the article I read):
True Finns is a political party founded in 1995 after the dissolution of the Finnish rural party. It slowly gained popularity since the election 2003, constantly gaining vote shares; in the 2006 presidential election it racked 3,4% of the votes and in 2009 its leader Timo Soini (in the picture) was elected to the European parliament with the highest personal vote share.
So far, True Finns are still no more than a minor hassle to the three major parties which basically (usually in some form alliance) rule the country.
Among the policies of the True Finns party are (straight from Wikipedia, again, and I selected the ones that mostly make my point):
• Decentralization of municipal government
• Opposition to the European Union and NATO admission
• Reduction of foreign aid
• Heavy limitation on humanitarian immigration to Finland
• Pro-industry environmental policy reform
• Tougher punishment for crime
• Government support for rural regions
Maybe this reminds something to my Italian readers…
But the worst has yet to come.
Going back to my breakfast in Helsinki, according to my newspaper, there has very recently been an (I suppose) independent poll held by the Helsingin Sanomat, which states that testify huge increase of popularity of the True Finns.
And by a huge increase in popularity I mean that at the moment it could obtain something like 17-20% of the votes, making it one of the three largest parties of the country (depending on the actual outcome) and actually larger than the Social Democrats.
And next parliamentary elections are going to be held in April.
But yet, according to the article, the political analysts say that Timo Soini will not be Prime Minister because "his rhetorics are colorful, but his policies are weak" and he will not even be part of a ruling alliance because "he lacks the political intelligence to constitute or be part of a leading coalition".
And the candidates of the three (so far) major parties graciously want to allow him to participate in the traditional tv debates (solely basing themselves on the result of the polls, since True Finns are still not officially a major party) so that "his lack of policies will expose itself and the True Finns phenomenon will deflate"*.
Maybe here in Finland it could even work, but in my experience underestimating a politician or a party because the emptiness of its political programs will became evident and the people will prefer the political quality is a blatant mistake.
You don't really need to be the largest party to effectively rule the parliament: you just need to be the tip of the scale.
Our last government fell for the vote of a handful of senators (3 if I remember correctly) which promptly got some very well payed positions under the wings of the opposing coalition.
The Italian "Lega Nord", which appeals to striking similar ideologies, has contributed to keep Silvio Berlusconi in power for most of the last 16 years without remotely reaching the vote share that Timo Soini supposedly have, all with a very colorful (to use an understatement) and quite empty rhetoric from its leaders.
And, most of the time, the "Lega Nord" has been the only political ally Berlusconi couldn't go without, effectively being able to impose its will much much more than its vote share would allow.
One of the reasons that led me out of my home country has been for sure the atmosphere of constant attack and contempt towards culture and knowledge in all its forms which has taken place in the last 15-20 years. And I am convinced that our Timo Soini** played a major role in it (though, of course, there are many more to blame).
So please, my Finnish readers, don't underestimate the thing and do the only thing which can help solving the problem in what I consider is the healthiest way:
vote and send people to vote.
PS: just after I finished writing this post, one of our major newspaper opened its online version with an article whose title roughly translates with Fini: there will not be elections this year, "But the real Prime Minister is Bossi". That's what I was talking about.
*Notice that these are not word-by-word quotations, since I don't have the newspaper at hand, but I am merely reporting the concepts.
**I am writing all this with very little information because I am quite concerned, but I really really hope that Soini is much better than our Umberto Bossi.