Wednesday, 6 April 2011
Voting in Finnish general elections
I've written before here about my slight obsession with democracy and elections and the importance of using your right to vote. Hence, I was excited like a little girl, when a few weeks ago, the voting slip for this year's Finnish general elections popped through my letterbox.
Finland has been an independent country with universal suffrage since 1917 - this is only a couple of generations ago, and in my view should never be taken for granted. I won't give you another history lesson (I can hear you nodding off already); all I'll say is that a country situated next to a large superpower values its independence - and being able to freely vote for a government is part of this.
My problem is that since I don't live in Finland, I'm not as up to date with the politics there as I should. When I go 'home', I spend most of my time in Åland, a self-governing part of Finland which has its own elections, or in Sweden, and often don't visit Finland at all. (My Finnish heart aches).
So this morning I've spent an hour looking through the candidate listings. I know which party I want to vote for, and I still vote in the constituency I lived in when I left the country some 25 (ish) years ago, so the list has only about forty or so names. The first thing I look for is anyone I know (this is possible in a country of only 5 million people), next for any women, because I feel the need to carry out some positive discrimination. This may not be necessary: Finland currently has a female President as well as a female Prime Minister, but I need to make my list of possible candidates shorter, so this is as good a way as any. Then I take away all teachers - I don't know why, just because - and I have a manageable list to choose from.
Due to the wonders of the interweb I can now Google my shortlist and hey presto, I have my own little election campaign on screen - most candidates even have a video clip succinctly stating their policies.
After some careful consideration, I have my candidate, and can say I chose her with some kind of an academic approach as opposed to just sticking a pin blindly on a list (which has happened, sadly, in the past).
I cannot tell you how excited I now am about the prospect of casting my vote later. What's more the Finnish Embassy will today - to celebrate the first day of voting - throw it's doors open and have guided tours of the Embassy building in Knightsbridge. I cannot wait to see the sauna in the basement - will it still be there, I wonder? There will reputedly be coffee and cinnamon buns on offer too.
Afterwards to celebrate the whole wonderful free election process, and being multicultural, I will take Daughter for royal tea - as recommended by my blogging heroine, LLG. I can't wait.