Saturday, April 05, 2008

No More Monkey Business

Alexander Stubb, MP
Originally uploaded by Dansk Industri
Just before heading to our summer house for Easter, I sat in a cafe in Helsinki with two of my politically active friends. As usually, they were my deepthroats to current political thinking. One of them mentioned regarding Foreign Minister Kanerva's text messaging and the sexual harrasment cases in the Parliament:"Well, one could see something good in this entire fuss. It shows that these old guys just cannot keep going as they wish."

Right on the mark, my friend. Kanerva obviously thought that he can just shrug this off and trust on his buddies. And for a long time it seemed so. You had (male) politicians saying that who cares about his texting as long as the man does his work well. But when it came out that Kanerva had twisted the truth on his messaging a number of times, it became unbearable for him to continue. I guess that his party leader Jyrki Katainen realised that losing Kanerva is safer than gambling on the nurses and teachers that vote his party. Those people in Turku will keep on voting the "martyr" Kanerva but the female voters are easily in the hands of the Social Democrats and the Greens.

Even against the mainstream of my (mostly leftish) friends, I am extremely happy with the person replacing Kanerva, MEP Alexander Stubb (see pic). He is smart, liberal (also socially), internationally experienced and younger. Stubb has been brilliant in the European Parliament in raising issues concerning sexual minorities and transparency. One can see his background as a civil servant and a political scientist here: this is not about waving the rainbow flag, but about civil rights and good governance at the centre of the European project.

I like having a Minister who is opinionated, experienced, skilled and not building on an Old Boys' Network. I don't mind if he supports NATO: that is an issue decided by the the political coalition and finally by the Parliament, not by the Foreign Minister. If this is the generational change in Finnish politics, I kind of like the taste of it. As President Halonen put it so well: it is positive that decency and gender equality are starting to play a bigger role in Finnish politics.


Aija said...

I agree with you in the opinion that Alexander Stubb is a good and very interesting choice for the foreign minister post in a lot of ways, not least for his involvement in promoting equal rights for LGBT people.

At the same time you left me wondering if he really has been a warrior for increased transparency within the EU? I can't remember that. For example, in the recent lobbying memorandum prepared by him he wanted to reject obligatory registration of certain types of lobbyists, an issue that he lost in the parliament.

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