Sunday, October 26, 2008

Soggy democracy

(Photo from YLE) I voted in the local elections today although the horrible weather made going outside a bit of a chore. In the Finnish electoral system, if I understand it correctly, you vote for a single candidate from party lists and the number of votes he or she gets then orders him or her on the party list. Then seats are distributed to parties on a proportional representation system on all votes cast. Hence if the SDP wins 20 seats, the SDP candidates with 20 highest personal votes get those seats. At least I think that is how it works. So unlike the UK you have to choose not only what party you want to vote for, but who within that party's group of candidates you like best.

This is quite tricky as there must have been at least 25 people standing for the party I wanted to vote for, and I didn't know anything about any of them. Had I been in Helsinki I could have voted for a colleague or two different friends who were all standing for the party I want to support, but in Vantaa I didn't have any easy opt-outs. I picked a few possible and googled - the third hit for one of my possibles was a Nazi hate site for another Finnish politician but that mentioned my possible candidate as a nigger-bitch and similar. My Finnish isn't great, but there seems to be an international standard to these types of morally retarded hate sites regardless of language: lots of capital letters, different font sizes, huge rambling texts, flashing graphics - really a crime against web-design regardless of the politics. This site said things along the lines of all Muslims being terrorists, black men wanted to rape you, feminists were feminazis (and "lesbos" for good measure) and went on in lots of details about the crimes of various "niggers" in Finland which I couldn't fully follow.

Anyway, I didn't need to research anymore who was getting my vote, and I hope the douchbag's pitiful drivel gave others the same idea.


Anonymous said...

Finding the right person is much easier if you know Finnish or Swedish, as there are all kinds of candidate machines on the web. They ask you a number of questions, and will then show the candidates that answered similarly to you. Check it out on for example

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

Thanks! I have used the Vaalikone on HS in the past but I've always thought the results were a bit odd. I like the idea, but my feeling is that the party's overall positions are more relevant than the individuals. So if you for example (in a national election) for example that you are pro-NATO to the Vaalikone, and then are in favour of progressive lefty things on many others - you might end up with one of the few SDP candidates that are pro-NATO. But that to me is a bit odd, because all it means is that SDP candidate won't ever get to be on the foreign affairs committee or similar!

Perhaps I'm being unfair and the vaalikones can account for this - or you simply pick the first candidate from the party you like out of the Vaalikone results. I guess coming from the UK, you get used to preparing yourself to vote for some idiot you don't like just because he/she is your party's candidate in your constituency!

Anonymous said...

I've found the process rather confusing. Being a foreigner and allowed to vote, I was keen to exercise my right but without speaking Finnish or Swedish it was of course difficult to choose.

My initial thought was to vote green, but I have the big problem that many of the green party are opposed to GMO and some don't even want to allow GMO even in research. This turned out not to be a problem, as I found out about a green candidate who is very pro-science and believes that technological innovations can solve many of the sustainable development problems. I was assured that he wasn't anti-GM, so I voted for him. He didn't get in. So, I'm now not sure who I helped get in. As I am a plant genetic researcher, it would be pretty silly to have voted for a lentil-eating hippy who wants to kick me out of my job. I'm sure the other green candidates aren't that extreme, and I can't see that decisions such as these would be a local issue, but I do wonder who my vote helped.

It seems to me that party politics are important here, as if your pick doesn't get in, then in effect you vote for some random person within the party whose opinion you might not share.

That being said, when I've voted in my parent's constituency in Britain, I've always considered the whole thing fairly pointless as the Conservatives getting the seat is foregone conclusion. I have always voted differently, but whilst doing so thinking that it was pointless. Now at least I feel like my vote made a difference, I'm just not sure if it was a good one.