2 May 2024

Brianna Wu's advice and the reality of Finnish politics

In recent years, Finnish society has become more polarized towards the right and the left than ever before. This is evident in virtually everything, as representatives of these factions seem unable to reach consensus on virtually any domestic political issue, even though the threat posed by Russia has led to foreign policy agreement.

In this respect, Finland increasingly resembles the United States of the 2020s, where parties that were previously able to address essential matters through mutual dialogue have lost their ability to cooperate. This was shockingly evident when some Republican members of Congress delayed the aid Ukraine needed for so long that Russian forces gained the upper hand on the front lines.

Therefore, it was interesting to note Brianna Wu's (Dem) social media post, in which she wrote, "The left learned all the wrong lessons from Donald Trump. We should have learned that if you do nothing about the extremists in your movement, they will take control of your party and you will lose everything. Instead, we told ourselves a comforting lie that half of our fellow Americans were beneath even talking to anymore. We stopped imagining a future where we could even live together. And our political class, hungry for power, let the open wounds fester."

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Finland has a long tradition of excluding democratic parties. In my youth, President Kekkonen, the Center Party, and the Left kept the National Coalition Party out of government, and later all major parties refused to cooperate with the Finns Party to keep it out of the chambers of power.

In Finland, it is also customary for politicians to give speeches on May 1st. This has very long traditions in the political left, but in recent times, actors from the right-wing of politics have also joined in.

Thus, Speaker Jussi Halla-aho (Finns Party) gave a reasonable speech, summarizing the reasons why the government has had to make tough decisions. And reminded us that living beyond our means is irresponsible towards the children who will end up paying the final bill.

Additionally, Halla-aho emphasized the importance of supporting Ukraine. According to him, "Russia is counting on us running out of resolve," so "we cannot afford to tire."

From the other end of the spectrum, opposition leader Antti Lindtman's (Social Democrats) May Day speech hinted at the time of the Finnish Civil War in 1918, suggesting that there are "haters of humanity" among the ministers of one government party. To underscore his confrontational stance, he also used the inaccurate term "Purra's right-wing government" referring to the Minister of Finance, as if the she was the Prime Minister of Finland.

In other words, while the Speaker clarified the reasons behind the government's actions to the public, the opposition leader sought to dehumanize one government party. And thereby, to construct the kind of society that the American Democrat I quoted above warned about in her social media post.

Of course, it's customary in May Day speeches to appeal to one's own voter base, which hopefully explains Lindman's and several other speakers' divisive rhetoric. However, I hope that dialogue improves as we return to everyday life, and that all Finnish politicians from left to right understand that a better society is not built by dehumanizing political rivals but by presenting alternatives and through cooperation between political parties.

Previous thoughts on the same topic:
Finns are backing the government making difficult decisions
Competence of the political left
Is the Finnish left-wing radicalizing?

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