Sunday, April 2, 2017

Street-level Elections

A week from today, Finland will hold elections for kunnat (basically county-level municipalities). These are held across the nation every four years and have a major impact on local governance. (Well, duh!)

In the case of Helsinki, this means electing the Helsinki City Council, which is made up of 85 members, almost as big as the US Senate.

As a legal resident of Finland, I’ve been eligible to vote in these local elections for a couple of decades already, long before I became a citizen. I usually vote for the Greens.

I can’t claim to be an expert on Finnish politics, other than having a rough idea where the major parties stand on the political spectrum. And in truth, Finland, being a very consensus-minded country, with regard to many issues there aren’t large gaps between major parties.

Anyway, I thought it might be interesting to profile, over several posts, at least some of the parties involved in the Helsinki election. But, of course, first I needed to acquaint myself with who’s running.

The most concrete way to do that is check out the old-school placards displayed in long, purpose-built metal frames located around the city. One of these is set up every election season in the same spot in our neighborhood, on the sidewalk at the end of my street opposite a garden supply store. You can’t miss it.

The empty frame appeared there already a couple of weeks ago and has gradually been filled with placards from different parties listing all their candidates in the Helsinki race.

A few days ago, I took a walk down the street to take a look. About half of the spots in the frames were still empty, with placards absent from some of the major parties, such as Kokoomus and the Swedish People's Party.

The parties that were represented were:

  • Feminist Party (Feministinen puolue)
  • Social Democratic Party of Finland (SDP) (Suomen Sosialidemokraattinen Puolue)
  • Greens (Vihreät)
  • Christian Democrats (Kristillisdemokraatit)
  • Independence Party (Itsenäisyyspuolue)
  • Communist Labor Party (Kommunistinen Työväenpuolue)
  • Finnish Center Party (Suomen Keskusta)
  • Finnish Communist Party (Suomen kommunistinen puolue)
  • Pirate Party (Piraattipuolue)
  • Liberal Party (Liberaalipuolue)
  • Martti Linnoaro (some guy with no party affiliation “sitoutumaton”)
I’ll try to cover at least some of these parties in the next few days -- maybe starting with the Christians. 

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