Saturday, April 8, 2017

Helsinki Votes: Marginal Leftists

Not surprisingly for a European country, and you might say especially for one that was on the fringes of the Russian Revolution, leftist politics has a long and storied history in Finland.  

When under threat of arrest in Petrograd in 1917, it was to Finland that Lenin – apparently not a man of great personal courage -- had escaped, living some months underground in Hakaniemi, the traditionally “Red” part of Helsinki.  

In a Hakaniemi bar called Juttutupa, there is still today a table where Lenin and Finnish Bolshevik Otto-Ville Kuusinen used to sit, maybe having a drink or two, but no doubt mostly discussing Marxism and revolution and other such breezy topics. It’s called “The Revolution Table”.  

(On an American-related note, the leader of the Communist Party USA was for some forty years a man named Gus Hall, the son of Finnish immigrants to Minnesota.)  

So, it’s perhaps not shock that there is an assortment of leftist parties to choose from in Finland, though for the most part, their influence has been greatly diminished over the last few decades.  

Two of them could be charitably called “marginal”, at best.  

The Communist Party of Finland (Suomen Kommunistinen Puolue or SKP), won only 9 municipal council seats in the 2012 election – in the entire country. One of those was in Helsinki. In this election, they are fielding 53 candidates (including unaffiliated ones) for the Helsinki city council.  

The SKP list. "Helsinkimme ei ole myytävänä" ("Our Helsinki is not for sale")

The Communist Workers’ Party – For Peace and Socialism (Kommunistinen Työäenpuolue – Rauhan ja Sosialismin puolesta) is even more marginal. In the last election, it didn’t win a single council seat nationwide, and got a total of only 704 votes -- also in the entire country. It has only seven candidates in the Helsinki race.  

The Communist Workers' Party -- For Peace and Socialism.

I don’t have the deep understanding of Marxism (or any for that matter) or patience to tease out what sets these two parties apart. Way too esoteric for me. I also can’t be bothered to contemplate how many angles can dance on the head of a pin.  

In any case, the SKP is described as a Marxist party, while the other one is described as a Marxist-Leninist party. With only 704 votes last year, the extra ingredient of Leninist doesn’t seem to be doing the trick.  

A side note: the term “Leninism” has popped recently in American political discourse, since Donald Trump’s “Senior Counselor”, Steven Bannon, has described himself as a “Leninist” -- in the sense that he wants to blow up the status quo, in particular the “administrative state”. 

Of course, as of this writing, it seems Bannon’s star is falling, so you might say he’s being marginalized. 


  1. "Not a man of great personal courage." LOL! Yes, yes, we know you're a nationalist. You don't have to be so obvious about it.

    From what I've seen so far of your descriptions of various parties, even right wing Finnish parties would be considered left wing extremists here in the USA in that they mostly want to preserve sane socialist achievements in Finnish society.

    As for Trump and Bannon--the neo-liberals have completed their domination and takeover of the Trump administration. A continuation of the USA/NATO military machine and its war crimes and mass murder as committed by GWBush/WJClinton/HWBush/BHObama. Nothing changes. The fake two-party system gives you someone to cheer for and nothing ever changes.

  2. That's an interesting story about Lenin spending time in Helsinki when things got too hot for him in the homeland. I've visited 'Juututupa' several times; sometimes they have some really great live music there and lunches at the restaurant are very good and reasonably priced.
    It will be interesting to see who our new Helsinki mayor is tomorrow. One issue I'm concerned about is the re-making of Hämeenväylä into a boulevard with trees and shrubs on the median. They also want to build new homes along a section of this boulevard but to do this they'll have to cut down trees in one section of Keskuspuisto (Central Park). I like the idea of a boulevard but certainly don't want trees felled in Keskuspuisto. Do we really need more houses in downtown Helsinki? It's quite a compact area and green spaces there are precious. I think they should be untouchable.

    1. I like that they have regular live music at Juututupa. We once saw the country/blue grass musicians Ninni Poijärvi and Mika Kuokkanen there (or maybe it was their band "Hoedown"). The place was packed like a can of sardines. A lot of fun.

      I really hope that Keskuspuisto stays intact -- it's definitely one of the best things about living in Helsinki.