Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Finnish presidential elections heat up (Niinistö vs. Haavisto)

The Finnish presidential elections are in full swing here in Finland.  They are down to 2 candidates from the initial pool of 8 that were running.  I promised myself that I would not get wrapped up in politics while living in Finland, but I must say that the political process here is quite different and more interesting from that in the United States.  It seems that in the US, the candidates are running to get elected or re-elected from the day the president takes office.  :)  The official election process is well over a year and it appears that the candidate with the most money (PACs, Super PACs, etc.) seems to have the best chance to win.  Money and advertisements are a powerful combination in the United States.  Not to mention the endless amount of needless banter as witnessed by the 20+ Republican debates that seem to have been going on for months now.  What did all these debates really accomplish?  To me these Republican debates were downright laughable and really only provided comedians with an endless array of arsenal for their comedic war chests.  In Finland, the 8 candidates are actually represented by 8 official parties and they each are allowed only one advertising sign per individual.  In addition, I have not even seen many TV adds for any of the candidates during the process.  I did notice a few civilized debates on the local TV though.  To even compare this to a US presidential debate would be entirely out of the question.  In Finland, it is not just Republicans versus Democrats like in the US, their 8 specific parties get true representation.  Parties, such as the Finnish Green Party or the Perussuomalaiset "True Finns" (Finnish incarnation of the US Tea Party) actually have a voice and get to officially run in the election.  I am not here to write detailed descriptions about the 8 specific political parties in Finland.  If you want information about the Finnish political parties, feel free to Google them.

After the first round of voting, the leading vote receiver by far was Sauli Niinistö of the National Coalition Party and the runner-up was Pekka Haavisto of the Green Party.  What I have heard is that the National Coalition Party would be like the "Republican" party of Finland, but supposedly the Republican party in Finland is much more moderate than the Republican party in the USA.  They probably would closer align to the United States Democratic party.  Also, Niinistö is known as being a moderate candidate even in the National Coalition Party of Finland.  I find it interesting that he has even been described as being Bohemian by some people.  That is definitely not a description you would typically apply to a Republican.  :)  Right now, Niinistö is the most popular choice and seems to be heading towards becoming the next president of Finland unless something short of a miracle happens to Pekka Haavisto.  Haavisto, from the Green party is a very interesting runner-up who received more votes than the 6 other candidates.  Many were surprised (probably not just in Finland) that a Green party candidate received as many votes as he did and that he even has a slim chance to become the next president of Finland.  I read something on the internet that a Green party candidate has never become a leader of a nation.  I guess in a nation like Finland this would be a huge achievement.  I honestly don't know enough about the candidates and Finnish politics to take a side on this, but I do like the values of the Green Party and would find it interesting should the "Green" candidate claim victory.  May the best man win!
Haavisto (left) Niinistö (right) 

3 comments:

  1. Just want to point out that comparing Persut to the Tea Party isn't really very accurate at all. I've noticed a few English sources (articles and blogs) doing this as well but it's a rather tenuous comparison. While they both might be considered conservative and populist, their core values couldn't be more different. Persut are pro-welfare state, progressive taxation, and universal healthcare, for example, whereas Tea Party are fundamentally libertarian and oppose taxation.

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  2. National Coalition Party is not the Finnish Republican party, it's the Finnish "80's Republican" party. They're urban, neo-liberal and big business.

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    1. ... per European standards, obviously.

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