Alea iacta est

Once again, a new page has been turned in the book of Finnish political history. The reign of the centrist party is now over, and the right is now taking the lead together with the more left leaning social democrats. This type of coalition cabinet is not a new thing here or in European history. But what is new is that now – as predicted beforehand – thanks to the huge success of the right-wing conservatist party True Finns (whose name in my opinion would be more truthfully translated as “basic Finns”) Finland has joined the ever-growing group of European countries (such as Switzerland, the Netherlands, DenmarkSweden and Hungary) in which right-wing nationalism is a significant force in political decision making. These elections have also gained unusually high amounts of international media attention because of their potential implications for the upcoming decision about the loan package to Portugal.

The public seems to be divided in two; the first part rejoicing of the huge success of TF, and the second one being confused and even scared about what this means for the country’s future. I confess that I am in no way a fan of TF or of their values. In fact their leader Timo Soini, a catholic populist armed with a strong set of “home, religion and the fatherland” -values and rhetoric which sounds like something out of the 1930s, is the very opposite of me in pretty much every conceivable manner.  Nevertheless, ridiculing their success or their slogans and values does not help. The fact is that they are now the third largest party in the country with 39 out of the 200 possible seats. And that tells us something: people are frustrated with the current state of affairs. Not just in here but all over Europe. That frustration has been channeled into conservatist parties partly because people tend to long for the bygone times and be lulled into a false sense of nostalgia of how everything was better before the euro or before the EU.

I claim however, that a much more important factor in the success of TF was the fact that for the majority of people they were the only truly different option. This is also a trend that is by no means limited only to Finland: The increased stability and co-operation of the post world wars Europe that the EU has created means that politics has become mundane and uninteresting in this day and age were massive wars, revolutions and uprisings don’t shake the political map of Europe like they used do every so often in previous centuries. All the traditional parties look and feel the same except in name. The biggest disputes are about economic policies and taxation but the people have rarely had much interest in getting excited about such things. Angry and frustrated for sure but the differences tend to be so small that they don’t create enough polarization for people truly to get involved in politics.

Right-wing conservatives have changed this, both in history and now, by being the only group vocal enough and different enough at the same time to provoke people’s interest in politics for the first time in years. For the majority of people there was no equivalent “radical” option in the liberal end of the scale because even the economically liberal biggest party Kokoomus is liberal only in matters of economy and international/EU-politics, they didn’t exactly counter the so-called “traditional” (ie. mostly outdated) values and ideals of cultural protectionism and isolationism that the TF, at least in part, stand for. The Green party tried but they have long since lost their credibility in the eyes of the people and are now seen mostly as treehuggers with lots of idealism but very little or no sense of realism.

The truth is that there was such a party in the elections: The Pirate Party of Finland, whose political ideology originates from Sweden and is still young and taking shape, but they were the best option for those people – such as myself – who were looking for a change forwards instead of a change backwards from the current political apathy and blandness. They got over 15 000 votes which would be enough to get them one seat in the parliament but unfortunately the votes were too scattered among different voting districts and none of the districts got enough votes to get a candidate through. The party is too new and strange yet to attract a lot of older voters. But it is a new force especially in northern and central Europe (PP has candidates in the Swedish national parliament, in the European Parliament and in municipal governments in Germany for example) and I am still pleased with the result, because taking into account the fact that these were the first elections in Finland in which the PP took part, the result is very good. It instantly became the most popular party out of the parties that were left outside of the parliament and polls done before the elections show that the PP has a wide range of supporters in the young people who are currently in high school and not yet allowed to vote.

The result is promising because the next elections will be the municipal elections in two years, and in those the PP has a realistic change of getting candidates through, and in four years in the next nationwide elections most of the young people mentioned above have reached adulthood and are able to vote. The True Finns have shown that they know how to convince the voters, now they must show that they are capable of acting in a way that is in accordance with their conservative values while simultaneously pleasing the two other larger parties and not plunging this country into a dead-end in the politic/economic field of the EU as, for example, sabotaging the Portugal’s loans would do, since EU would most certainly “retaliate” by decreasing the amount of agricultural support funds given to Finland (among other nasty things).

So dear Mr. Soini: Your party broke records in the elections and you have left your name in the history books for sure but I remind you that the elections are now over and the political Olympiad has begun. This means that you have four years of time to please the general public, but it demands actions – rational actions – instead of just rhetoric. I am skeptical of your competence to do this, and we might see new elections sooner if your likely to be formed coalition cabinet cannot form a clear line. That remains to be seen.

So enjoy it for as long as it lasts but don’t forget to keep and eye on the horizon. Black ships are coming, and on those ships are men who – unlike you – think homosexuals are equal people, that  neither racism veiled in the cloak of patriotism nor religion should have anything to do with politics and that censoring the internet is never a good thing. We’ll be landing ashore and confronting you in four years – or sooner if you screw up and manage to break the cabinet – with our eyepatches and liberal values.

So until then my friends and adversaries, I will be following the example of captain Jack Sparrow.


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