Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Subtle development

Matti Vanhanen
Originally uploaded by villoks.
Today is a good day. I am extremely proud of being a Finn. The country lives up to its reputation as a nation of gender equality. The list of ministers in the new cabinet was published today and I was astonished when I realised that for the first time in the country's 100 years of parlamentarism we have a government with more women than men.

This calls for celebration. And my (virtual) flowers are sent to a very peculiar direction, the Centre Party. The party branded as the voice of the conservative farmers is the first one in Finnish history to elect a woman as Prime Minister (in 2003) and now lead a government with female majority.

The Centre Party seems to be now the voice of progress and optimism in Finland. They are the party that actually develop the society and suggest alternative agendas. For instance in this government they pushed for combining the ministries of employment and industry. And all this done with the leadership of a man who still in 2003 declared that being Prime Minister was a personal sacrifice, not something he ever wanted.

Matti Vanhanen, the Prime Minister from 2003 on and the head of the new cabinet is a modest man. He lives up to the Finnish values of sincerity and honesty to the extent of turning boring. But if one evaluates what he has done during the last years, one has to say that it was a clever move from the Centre Party to elect him as their leader. The economy is doing brilliantly. Even if he does not have the charisma to charm masses and win the presidential run, he does a good job in leading a team of ministers.

All and all, I am rather optimistic when it comes to the next four years with our centre-right government. I may be proven wrong but we shall see.

1 comment:

Jenni said...

I was very excited when I found about the make-up of the new government and I, too, look forward to seeing what it can achieve. I think this a bit "last-minute" though - Finland truly needs this government as the economic prospects aren't all that great for the future and as we will be encountered by dilemmas brought about by the demographic development soon.

You are correct in stating that the economic situation has been good but I'm not sure if you are implying that this is an achievement of the late government and Matti Vanhanen? If so, I must disagree. I do believe that Finland's economic performance has been independent of the government's actions at best. Also, I believe, the government could have done a whole lot more to create a more succesful environment for the actors operating in the sphere of commerce.

I must somewhat disagree with you on your analysis on the progressive nature of the Center party, too. Yes, it is a history-in-the-making kind of gesture on the party's part to choose five females and three males as their ministers-to-be but I am sort of torn between praising the rise of women and, at same time, raising my eyebrows at the fact that the Center party didn't exactly choose people who I'd describe youthful, progressive, full of ideas, forward-looking - people that would fit nicely in a government that many hope will be capable of doing reforms very much needed to keep the country on the right track.

But that's just a humble opinion coming from a girl who - despite being all for gender equality - always stresses the importance of personality and personal attributes, abilities etc. as the basis of a well-rounded, carefully thought decision when it comes to voting or appointing people for offices. I don't think women should be given an upper-hand in these kinds of situations solely because they happen to be, well, women. I think that in doing so the essence of the term 'equality' is lost.

And I do realize that as you are residing outside Finland, you might share a very different view on the PM's person but I must say that especially during the elections campaign, Matti Vanhanen did appear to be everything but modest. The shocking result of the elections seem to have taken the edge off, though, and the follow-up to the elections have seen a prime ministerial candidate a bit more, well, willing and needing to discuss, compromise and give in in order to come up with a coalition with which run the country.

Okay, this "comment" got out of hand - sorry! Anyway, even though our perspectives differ to a large extent, I enjoy reading your views on the political life in and outside Finland (or maybe for that very reason :) Keep up the good work!