Monday, June 08, 2009

Shaken, Yet Still Standing

Yesterday´s elections were quite exciting, I have to say. It is always fantastic and good for democracy when things get shaken. Here a few observations:

- True Finns: Most of Finnish media is making the wrong analysis on this political party. Putting the party leader Timo Soini and his folks in the same category with the Dutch islamophobe Geert Wilders is a misrepresentation of the truth. The policy and popularity of True Finns works much more on the anti-establishment card than on xenophobia. This is quite obvious when you listen to them in debates. The party has a natural attraction amongst poor pensioners or unemployed youth - people feeling abandoned by the illusion we call the welfare state. Taking these fears and this anger seriously is a difficult challenge for the rest of the parties.
And let´s face it: how low would the voting rate have been WITHOUT True Finns? The fact that people wish to express anti-establishment sentiments and disappointment by voting is something we should take joy from.

- SDP: That old poster in the picture tells it all. SDP´s slogan: We will make some noise on your behalf. A political party unable to provide a role for the citizen deserves a defeat. As someone wrote on Facebook today: the problems of this party-turned-institution are the same as the Lutheran Church´s. And it is not saved by recycling Blairite slogans from 1997. Defending the System goes down badly at a time when people are seeking for a sense of involvement and belonging. Yes We Can is not only a disguising slogan for old politics, it means that you actually involve people in making change happen. It is a new way of doing politics and calls for a new way of building trust and communities. If they have the courage, this is a great opportunity for Social Democrats: empowering the people in the margins to be change makers in their own lives.
And let´s face it: we have come far from the 1903 goal on the separation of church and state when the leading man of the Social Democrats is a priest who is not even a member of the party.

- Greens: Good tail wind, have to give them that. I am not really interested in the boxes provided by other parties for the Greens: garden party of the right or the new Communists? This discussion does not really solve anything and is purely an intellectual masturbation exercise of political hacks.
If I would be making strategies for the party, I would try to find ways to diversify the party´s image from the current one: an upper middle-class smart party posse setting themselves above the rest of the society. The Greens should listen carefully to the increasing comments on arrogance and inability to understand other view points. Softening of actions, image and policy might be worth considering.

- National Coalition (Kokoomus): Kokoomus is still the biggest party in Finland although they did not make their target of keeping four seats. The party ran a campaign relying highly on the youthful Minister of Finance and the Minister of Foreign Affairs (neither of whom were running). They ran a campaign focusing on good mood, simplifications and happy-happy-joy-joy - an exemplary campaign of the republic of entertainment.
But the party stumbled in the last weeks when some candidates pushed some content to the surface which did not fit the party line. Cartoon TV ads do not explain away candidates calling immigrants social bums or questioning climate change.
This is the destiny of all parties controlled by spin doctors: there comes a point when you need to realise that you just cannot control it all.

All and all, the results tell a good story. The parties which have invested in their local actions and on bringing new people in did well in these elections. The ones at a loss with their objectives were punished by the voters. This is what we call democracy.

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