The demographics of an ageing population are one factor that makes the elderly an important electoral constituency in Finland. Apart from being voters themselves, they are also an important object of political concern by others. In this Politico interview, made before the election, I suggested the scandal over private elderly care providers in January was a decisive moment. “Media coverage of the case created an image of greedy corporations putting profit before the needs of the elderly”.
Finally, the center-right National Coalition Party, that had been most closely associated with privatization, did not do all that horribly. It was the Center Party that took a much bigger blow because of the previous government’s mistakes (perceived and real). In any case, as a contrafactual claim, I continue to suggest the Social Democrats would not be the biggest party in the April 14 elections without the scandal of the elderly care.
Social Democrats become the biggest party in the Finnish parliamentary election of April 14, followed by the Finns Party. Greens and Left Alliance make significant advances, National Coalition Party maintains its position.
Difficult coalition building ahead. The Finns Party probably out, even if the National Coalition Party might want to flirt with it if only to threaten social democrats with the possibility of right-wing coalition in order to get a better negotiating position.
The Greens likely to be in any foreseeable coalition. The Swedish People’s Party also quite likely junior partner. The Left Alliance got the first advance in seats since 1995. Not impossible that they would also enter the government, but hard to find common agenda if the National Coalition Party also in. The Center Party lost big time, but it is not impossible that it could be a useful piece in some coalition, perhaps along the lines of the classical Popular Front governments.
Now it’s real. Finland’s government includes a party that just elected a person convicted for a racist crime (ethnic agitation) as its new leader. The question is obviously not simply about Jussi Halla-aho’s criminal behavior, but that the party has decided to take a turn away from its agrarian populist roots and toward racism. Continue reading
Candidates with migrant background get more importance than before in Helsinki municipal election. Continue reading
One thing that keeps amazing me is to see the Finnish military marching and some of the Air Force guys carrying a swastika. I am not talking only about documentaries from the 1930s. I am talking about today. The image posted above is the current emblem of the Air Force Command.
Swastika-like figures appear in some other official Finnish symbols, including the presidential flag. My focus here is on the one used by the Air Force since it is probably the one that has clearest resemblance with the Nazi symbol. The colors and the position are a bit different, but the association is difficult to avoid. Continue reading
The debate about the future of universities in Finland has been quite intense in the last couple of years. There have been various kinds of protests, including occupations of university buildings by angry students and critical declarations by professors. Some, such as the eminent scholar of Arabic and Islam Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila, have decided to leave the country, citing the hostile attitude of the current government of Finland toward the universities as one reason. Continue reading
There was an energetic antiracist demonstration yesterday in Helsinki. It was triggered by comments that Member of Parliament Olli Immonen had made in Facebook a few days earlier. Many people, including myself, considered these comments by a high-profile Finns Party member disgustingly racist.
Especially for the standards of the Finnish protest culture, the demonstration was mostly deemed a great success. Sure, there were some minor contradictions.
Today another Finns Party Member of Parliament, Jani Mäkelä, decided to question yesterday’s demonstration. So he asked in Twitter how the demonstration was able to get permits from the authorities so fast. Smart. Except that the Finnish constitution happens to be quite clear: no permit is needed for demonstrations. Continue reading
A proposal for marriage equality law was blocked today in the Finnish parliament. Among other things, it proposed giving same-sex couples full adoption rights. The decision of the parliament’s legal affairs committee is obviously embarrassing for the attempts to create an image of Finland as a vanguard of equality rights.
The silver lining is that citizen’s initiative will be able to make visible its legislative potential. This could be an unprecedented opportunity for mechanisms of participatory democracy, traditionally not very strong in Finland. Continue reading
“Openness, right to information and access to decision-making are fundamental principles of the rule of law and good governance.” This is one example of the many ways in which the Development Policy Program of the Finnish Government emphasizes the importance of openness. Nice words, but does the government practice what it preaches? Continue reading