Should the Air Force of Finland Get Rid of the Swastika?

ilmavoimat

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

Critique as Hysteria: I say this government is hostile to universities

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

Finns Party Member of Parliament Ignorant of the Constitutional Right to Demonstrate

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

Marriage Equality Law Rejection May Have a Silver Lining

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

Limits to Openness in Finnish Development Policy: Selecting the World Bank Executive Director

“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