Monday, May 07, 2007

One intellectual less

Originally uploaded by Kepa ry.
Just got back from a fab evening with two Finnish friends who are visiting Amsterdam. We ended up into a fierce debate on Finnish politics which was really inspiring. I love talking about politics with people who know what they are talking about. I truly enjoyed the evening, especially with one of my friends who is a true leftist whereas I am more on the centre-liberal side.

I have not hidden in this blog the fact that I am rather optimistic when it comes to the new government but there is one thing that I really miss: having a leading figure like the Foreign Minister who is a clear intellectual. We had that in Finland for 7 years with Erkki Tuomioja. I sincerely look up to him as a person who does not fall into populist rhetorics, does not talk bullshit and has the courage to be himself. Tuomioja for me is the one thing I miss from the Social Democrats in the government.

This popped into my head again today when I was reading his blog. His Finnish is superb and lively, he does not beat around the bush and dares to take a stand. I do not agree on many issues with his rather old school leftish approach but I admire his passion and I acknowledge the level of accuracy in his writing. I think Tuomioja was a fantastic voice for the European Union during the EU presidency last year.

And when it comes to his own party he does not let people off the hook (himself included) too easy. Tuomioja was the one who dared to say after the election defeat that the reason for the loss was the politics of the last years, not a failed advertising campaign.

He writes in his blog:
"SDP:n julkisuuskuva kertoo ikääntyvästä ja nuhrautuneesta, ylimielisestä ja sisäänpäinkääntyneestä, omasta erinomaisuudestaan ja vallassaolonoikeutuksestaan vakuuttuneesta, pelotteluun ja negatiiviseen kampanjointiin turvautuvasta, SAK:hon nojaavasta ja uudistuksia karttavasta johtajakeskeisestä valtionhoitajapuolueesta. Tämä on ainakin se kuva, jonka valtavirtamedia meistä antaa. Ja vaikka itse tiedämmekin, ettei todellisuus toki näin synkeä ole, on tämä kuva kuitenkin riittävässä määrin totuudenmukainen. Siksi on tunnustettava, etteivät ongelmamme ratkea vain kosmeettisilla muutoksilla ja mainostoimistoa vaihtamalla."

What Tuomioja is saying is that the party has an arrogant and self-congratulating image which true to such a level that the problems can not be solved by changing advertising agencies. I could not agree more. What I said to my friends today as well: I actually hope that the kick on the bum makes the Social Democrats reinvent themselves and come out of the crisis stronger than ever.

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