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Will Finland elect the first Green president?

PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2012 11:50 am
by kas
I know that presidential elections in our mostly peaceful corner are not a big issue in the greater scheme of things, given that the president has a largely ceremonial role...

But the ongoing elections have yelded a very interesting, and I would say exhilirating, interim result (there will be a second round since no candidate came up with more than 50 % of the votes).

The two finalists will be the conservative candidate Sauli Niinistö (a veteran of the political establishment), and Pekka Haavisto (Greens), current member of parliament, whose merits include a stint as the minister of environment and as a representative of UNEP in the Balkans and of EU for peace talks in Darfur. His backing in the elections comes mainly from young independent supporters and private donators. Haavisto is also the first openly gay candidate for the post, something which many thought was too much of a handicap for him.

Last year, there was much ado about the EU sceptic, far right(ish) True Finns party winning the parliament elections. Their leader Timo Soini also took part in the elections, but only came in fourth, with less than 10% of the votes.

Haavisto's popularity has snowballed steadily from just a few percents to almost 20% and it has electrified the entire election, which most initially considered an uninteresting poll between old, established politicians.
Now he is a serious contender for the most prestigious position in the country. Many commentators have estimated that this as such represents a reaction to the rise of the True Finns.

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/01/22/world ... index.html

Re: Will Finland elect the first Green president?

PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 8:56 pm
by judith
Thanks for posting this, Kas. Any good news is part of the greater scheme of things and reading about this gives me hope that reactions against the far right continue here there and everywhere. When is the second round?

Re: Will Finland elect the first Green president?

PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:28 am
by kas
The second round will be on the coming sunday.

The moderately conservative candidate Niinistö is leading the race gallupwise. The elections have been fairly clean so far. The first round was, I think, historically free of any dirty tricks with all candidates setting an example of respecting each other and asking their supporters to do likewise.

I'll see if I can dig up some commentaries on this aspect from the foreign press, because every single domestic comment I have read and heard here have expressed the big releaf this nature of the campaign has been since the occasionally very ugly parliament elections.

Our elections coinciding with the Republican pre-elections in the USA has of course given the journalists ample opportunities to compare the style and methods used...

Both remaining candidates have behaved as the perfect gentlemen they clearly are and, again, encouraging their supporters to do so as well. The independent campaigning in the social media has, however, been more than a little uncomfortable to follow.

We'll see...

Re: Will Finland elect the first Green president?

PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 7:40 pm
by judith
Thanks for the update, Kas. I will check in on Sunday to see what has happened.

Yeah. Our campaign style...I have not read or watched any of it this year, on purpose. It makes me ill. As it is, one hears it and about it if one is on the internet - or word of mouth. And, at this moment I am thankful I do not have a television. The constant bombardment, the ugliness, it is nearly unimaginable to the unexposed. And then there are the outright lies.

Re: Will Finland elect the first Green president?

PostPosted: Fri Feb 03, 2012 8:02 am
by kas
Two Finnish journalists give a short account of the presidential elections and, in particular the fall of the Finnish Social Democrats, in yesterday's Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree ... -democrats

The Social Democrats have, indeed, held the presidential post for 30 years, with three successive presidents: Mauno Koivisto, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Martti Ahtisaari and the current president Tarja Halonen.

A musical interlude to keep you entertained while reading: "the country's most popular rock band of the 90's" mentioned in ther article, Ultra Bra:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGmGt35b ... re=related

Re: Will Finland elect the first Green president?

PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2012 2:06 pm
by kas
Another short piece on the elections in Guardian, this time with Charlotta Hedman and Héctor Montes reporting from Helsinki: "Gay and Green presidential contender battles to break the mould in Finland".

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/fe ... a-haavisto

There is one aspect in Haavisto's campaign that Hedman and Montes bypass. The landslide victory of the True Finns party last year left the Finnish society deeply fragmented and brought along open hostilities (verbal if not always physical) between the various factions.

What Haavisto has strongly advocated is rebuilding bridges and downplaying suspicions and divisions. He made the most famous publicity stunt in the elections by visiting one of the most notoriously vocal members of the True Finns MP's at his home. It has been said that this visit started his rise in the polls and made him a serious candidate.

We'll see tomorrow how well he will do in the elections, but I and a fair share of others do think that his camaign has already started to change the mental and climate for the better.

Re: Will Finland elect the first Green president?

PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 7:11 am
by kas
Well, so it went last night: the conservative candidate won the race, the more radical alternative lost. As Guardian reports:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/fe ... i-niinisto

Just one or two comments on the article: both candidates share the bulk of their opinions in terms of foreign and EU policy. So much so that there have been comments that you can hardly make a distinction between the two.

A good share of the population felt neither candidate represented the values they held important. The turnout was fairly low, and there was a record number of empty votes.

On the positive side: while Haavisto drew much of his support from the young urban voters in the south (I must be 48 years young then), he drew a considerable number of votes from all over Finland and from people of all ages and from all walks of life.

I'd like to think he has already set forth a change of climate in our society.

Oh, both Niinistö and his two sons survived the 2004 tsunami.

Re: Will Finland elect the first Green president?

PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 8:08 pm
by judith
My apologies for my absence here after I'd expressed an interest. I have been read your updates and also have read up on the the blue greens, and the red greens, at first quite confusing, then given what I have experienced, quite logical. The city in which I live was the first to elect an all Green city council some years ago. Your explanations about this election have been helpful as I have always found politics extremely confusing and those in Finland seemed particularly so.

I'm listening to Ultra Bra right now, and have checked them out in Wikipedia, and I'm enjoying this song. Quite fitting for the articles. It's difficult to perceive, over here, where things are going (conservative vs liberal). One moment there seems to be a liberal backlash (most visibly with what Planned Parenthood has been through and behind this past year) but time will soon tell.

Long may you and I hope for a change of climate in our respective societies and vote with the (in this case) young!

Re: Will Finland elect the first Green president?

PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2012 8:32 pm
by kas
Distinguishing between "red greens" and "blue greens" can get more than a bit hairy (and hazy around the edges). Red greens tend to be young and radical, while blue greens are more likely to be slightly older, citified and "realist" - and also well established in the metropolitan administration.

Go anywhere rural, and the term "Greens" almost immediately become loaded with bitterness. So in that sense a candidate who is Green, gay and a former minister of the environment faces a triple handicap anywhere but in the largest cities.

That Haavisto did so well, has been a benchmark achievement and universally noted as such. He is now one of the heavyweights in our politics, even if he comes from a midweight party.