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Politics of Finland (the s.c.nordic FAQ)
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Politics of Finland

 



Subject: 4.4 

The Finnish parliament, government and political parties

<by Jorma Kyppö, Hiski Haapoja et al>

 

4.4.1 The political parties

The Centre (Keskusta, abbr. Kesk) was called The Agrarian League until 1965 and it still derives its main support from rural areas covering most of Finland. Not nearly all the voters have anything to do with farming, but loyalty to the Centre is almost a family value in the provinces, particularly the two northern ones (Oulu and Lapland). The higher voting percentage of the rural areas is an additional asset. The party has a strong anti-EU wing. Famous representatives for the Centre have been the late President Urho Kekkonen, the former Prime Minister Eske Aho, and the former minister for foreign affairs Paavo Väyrynen.

The Social Democrats (SDP) are strongest in the Southern industrial towns, also sharing much of the middle-class and public employee vote. President Martti Ahtisaari, EU commissioner Erkki Liikanen, former Prime Minister Kalevi Sorsa, and the current (1995-) Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen might be heard of also outside of Finland.

The National Coalition (Kokoomus, abbr. Kok), or Conservatives, presents itself as the party of entrepreneurs and patriots, winning 90 per cent shares of vote in army bases. Helsinki and the other main cities are National Coalition strongholds. While most of rural Finland is dominated by the green of the Centre, Eastern Häme is blue for some reason.

The Young-Finns (Nuorsuomalaiset - the name harks back to the days of the Tsar) are neo-liberals, appearing as a more modern, "cool" urban alternative to the Conservative National Coalition.

The Left-wing Alliance (Vasemmistoliitto, abbr. Vas) is a 1990 attempt to gather together the quarreling Communist movement. Some splits are still visible both inside and outside of the party. Much stronger in the North than in the South, the party gets most of its votes from industrial workers. The eternal struggle with SDP over trade unions goes on and on.

The Swedish People's Party (abbr. SFP in Swedish, RKP in Finnish) unites most of the Swedish-speaking minority of the Southern and Ostrobothnian coasts, from leftist intellectuals through farmers and fishermen to nobility. The language issue gives SFP the stablest electorate of any Finnish party. It manages to make its way to most Finnish governments, thus having an influence greater than its size.

The correct translation of Svenska Folkpartiet is not obvious.
In this article "Swedish People's Party" is used, however this is far from a perfect translation:

"Folkpartiet" means "People's party" and denotes in Finland like in Scandinavia parties of Liberal, non-Socialist, character. "Svenska" means that the party intends to represent the fraction of Finland's citizens with Swedish mother-tongue. This they do quite well as the Swedish speakers are less than 6% of Finland's population.

The Swedish People's Party is in the parliament also supported by the representative from the Åland Islands, who technically is not a member of the party as the authonomous islands have a political system of their own.

The Greens first entered the Parliament in 1983. Their main concern is the environment (attitudes ranging from moderate to fanatical) but many counter-culture youths and citizens' rights activists feel at home here as well. Paradoxically, the nature party thrives mainly in the big cities (the "Neon Greens") as well as in the Universities.

The Christian League (founded in 1958) owes most of its seats to skillful electoral alliances which give the party benefit from votes originally given to other parties. Many of its faces represent Revivalist movements rather than mainstream Lutheranism, which shows in a fundamentalist approach on social issues.

SMP, The Finnish Rural Party, (although changing the meaning of the letters is continually proposed) originated in 1959 as a rebellious (anti-Kekkonen) fraction of the Agrarian League. The party's electoral success has been very variable and despite government participation during the 1980s it never achieved, or much sought for, respectability, preferring to fish the populist vote with anti-refugee statements. The state of SMP has more than once been chaotic, but it has risen like a phoenix from the ashes.

The Liberal Party lost its only MP in 1995, and is now facing extinction. LKP has a history of power despite its small size.

The ultra green Ecological Party got one MP in 1995, one of the surprises of the elections.

There are a dozen registered parties outside the Parliament. The law states that a party which fails to enter the Parliament two times consecutively must be dissolved, but usually they re-arrange themselves with the collection of another 5,000 signatures. Among them are three retired persons' parties (the least of them called Party of Shared Responsibility of Pension Receivers and Greens), the Women's Party and the Natural Law Party which aims to heal the Finnish economy by the means of yoga flying. The status of bad old IKL (the main Fascist party, banned in 1944) is somewhat unclear at the moment.

 

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4.4.2 The 1995 general elections

Section is removed from the FAQ due to its dusty antiquty.
 

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4.4.3 The rainbow cabinet

The cabinet appointed by president Ahtisaari after the elections in 1995 is nicknamed the "Rainbow cabinet" as it includes 7 Social Democrats, 5 Conservatives, 2 (ex-)Communists, 2 ministers from the Swedish People's Party, one Green and one independent minister. The only major party left out is the Centre, which dominates rural Finland. The notion of Conservatives and Communists in the same cabinet is unheard before, as is the presence of the Green (as Minister of Environment). Eleven ministers are men, seven are women.



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- Is the text above really reliable?
- See the discussion in section 1.2.2!
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© Copyright 1994-2001 by Antti Lahelma and Johan Olofsson.
You are free to quote this page as long as you mention the URL.
The line of flags is modified after a picture at det Åländska skoldatanätet.
This page was last updated March the 10th in the year of 2001.

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