The elections will end on Sunday, and some of you will certainly follow the results. For those not very used to Finnish politics, we wanted to provide some decryption of what it will happen from tomorrow evening, as it may different from your home country.
If you look on the internet, you will find that the parliamentary elections are normally held every four years in Finland, except in case of dissolution. Finns elect the 200 members of their unicameral Parliament (no Senate or House of Lords, so it costs less) in 13 electoral districts which are:
Helsinki electoral district 22
Uusimaa electoral district 35
South-west Finland electoral district 17
Satakunta electoral district 8
Häme electoral district 14
Pirkanmaa electoral district 19
Southeast electoral district 17
Savo-Karelia electoral district 16
Vaasa electoral district 16
Central Finland electoral district 10
Oulu electoral district 18
Lapland electoral district 7
Åland electoral district 1
The voting system is a proportional system using the d’Hondt’s method. In the US, it is called the Jefferson’s method of Jefferson. It has the characteristic to favour slightly parties that get the most votes in an electoral district. It is used in France for the European elections, and in Belgium for the Parliament, for example.
In fact, what is specific in Finland since the 50’s is that you vote for an individual candidate who belongs to a party. All votes received by a party are added together, and the seats are distributed among the parties. If a party gets 5 seats, for example, the 5 candidates of the party in the district who got the most votes are in, the party’s does not really decide who is going to be chosen. As explained to me by a candidate of the True Finns, it is quite democratic. And that makes lead politicians nicer …
Another element seems to be that ministers are normally members of Parliament (Can anyone confirm, and whether it’s tradition or rule?).
The Centre Party (Keskusta), who is strong in rural settlements, wants to preserve the life and services throughout Finland, is quite cautious on budget cuts, has recently started a green orientation, is pro-immigration, and wants to help small entrepreneurs. They are cautious about NATO. I think that Keskusta is quite successful these days because its leader, Mr Sipilä, is someone who appears modest, good negotiator, able to listen to his interlocutors.
The National Coalition Party (Kokoomus): is liberal, pushes to streamline and privatize the health and social services, wants major reforms and major budget cuts, wants to join NATO. In my view, suffers from the lack of a clear vision of what he wants to do for Finland and Finns except cutting public services. And the selection of Mr. Stubb, a rather worthy and friendly person, was a little weird because he has not the style of leadership that the Finns expect from a leader (strength, modesty, sisu, these are clichés, but in some way true also). Stubb did his best, but the government he was leading was so unable to begin a reform in four years, except to pass gay marriage …
The Social Democratic Party: social evidently, wants to mainly protect the welfare state, has a green attitude, but less pronounced recently . Reticent about NATO (there is however, a social democrat for NATO interviewed in the campaign). The leader, Antti Rinne, quite recently elected, comes from the trade unions and struggles for putting back on tracks a party who has been a long time number one and has built with some others the Finnish social model. In some way, there is a difficulty to define a new social democratic vision for the 21st century.
The Greens (Vihreät): an older generation, with conservative people such as Mr. Osmo Soininvaara, is now withdrawing, and we will have new leaders among the Greens, with some continuity, in particular Pekka Haavisto, a quite successful candidate in the last presidential election. Until now, they have been very urban, but they develop now everywhere. They were concentrating on nature preservation, they changed and invest in green growth to fight climate change. On social issues, they are sometimes a little libertarian (cannabis), even if they did not defend it during the campaign. More and more on social issues.
PS (Perussuomalaiset): They are not Nazis or fascists, only protesters, populist, anti-immigration, anti-European, not really feminists, who want as the Centre Party to defend countryside people and small entrepreneurs. However, there are among people expressing racism, although Timo Soini, who wants to become a Minister seems to control it.
The Left Alliance (Vasemmisto): they are activists associated with the civil society, want to fight inequality, discrimination, they are relatively greens for some of them, and have proved that they were able to participate in agovernment. They are active and visible and attract young people.
What will happen after the election?
President Niinistö will appoint the head of the winning party to lead a coalition. It will be probably Mr. Juha Sipilä (Keskusta) if we believe in the polls. Sipilä will then consult with other parties to find partners and agree on a common program that will specify reforms to accomplish and orientations to take.
The ranking of the other parties will count, and the second one will certainly be invited by M. Sipilä. it is quite tight between the Social Democrats (SDP), the True Finns (Perussuomalaiset) and the National Coalition Party (Kokoomus). If SDP is n umber 2, we will probably have a government called “Red Earth” with Keskusta, the SDP, the Swedish People’s Party of Finland, which will be 4 or 5% of the vote as usual and will want as usual to be in the government especially to protect the Swedish language in Finland.
The big question is whether the Greens will join the group, or the True Finns (Perussuomalaiset ) or Vasemmisto. Curiously, the idea of participating in a government with the True Finns do not necessarily seem impossible for the Social Democrats (see interview with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Social Democrat leader Erkki Tuomioja on our website). For some , 4 years in the government will make disappear the True Finns party (see interview Pentti Arajärvi on our website).
If the number 2 in the elections is the right-wing Kokoomus, it will be a half-surprise. In this case, Mr Sipilä will invite them first certainly the True Finns, which would be a novelty that would attract attention, and could be tricky for Mr. Sipilä, in particular on immigration issues. A nightmare for the left … I doubt that the Left Alliance would join such a coalition. M. Sipilä being cautious, he may want to balance the government by inviting the social democrats.
The most interesting therefore will happen in the days following the election, and the main question is what will be included in the government programme ……