Tuesday, September 22, 2009

More Finnish corruption

I've given up on trying to think of another word for it, so corruption it is. This is a quick look at what is currently rocking the Helsinki political scene for the non-Finnish politics geeks:
  1. The state taxes the poor and stupid by having a monopoly on slot machines in the form of an "association" called RAY .
  2. The head of RAY is appointed according to a stitch-up between the political parties.
  3. RAY then gives money to charitable foundations to do charitable works.
  4. Some charitable foundations decided that charitable work included funding political campaigns such as that of the Prime Minster when he ran for the the presidency.
  5. The head of one of the foundations that gets money from RAY and that also funnels money to politicians, used to be the administrative director of RAY. So, nothing dubious there then.
  6. The chair of the foundation that is most at question, Nuorisosäätiö, is also a Centre Party MP. The foundation he chairs himself gave him money for his municipal, national and Euro political campaigns. So ABSOLUTELY nothing dubious there then.
So have I forgotten anything?

STT reports that in comments to reporters at the airport today: "[Prime Minister Matti] Vanhanen went on to fault the overall atmosphere of the Finnish election campaign funding debate. 'Everything has been somehow rendered morally suspect'."

I wonder why Matti?


Kardal said...

Yep, that sounds pretty good. And there's absolutely no self-denial to be seen anywhere...

- Kari

Jukka said...

To understand this current state of affairs in Finland one needs to understand the whole political structure and accept the fact that Finland is in fact a class society made up of two groups: The Political Class and The Other Class.

The political class doesn’t just include MPs, it consists of all those people whose livelihood depends on Finland’s political system. These people live an existence completely separated from Finnish society (The Other Class). The vast majority of people working in the political arena in Finland will never have worked a non political job. They will have come in to politics in their late teens or early twenties, most likely both their parents before them earned a living from politics, in school they will naturally have been part of student politics.

When they graduate they will go to work for one of the main three political parties or some organisation linked to a political party. After they finish their daily work they will spend the evenings in the meetings of varied committees and organisations related to politics, either via their own party or one of the many groups which have political party mandates for members of different political parties (eg Allianssi).

When these people let their hair down, they do it with other individuals who work in the political field. If they are the sporty type, they will play sports in a team consisting of only people who also work in politics. The will meet their future spouses at Christmas get together of their own party, or at the Christmas get together of another party where they have been invited as representatives of their own party. They will divorce and re-marry people from the political class. Their whole lives are based on interaction solely with others from the political class.

I haven’t the resources, but I’m willing to wager that if you took the CV’s of all who work inside the Finnish House of Parliament (excluding the janitors, security and cooks) and went through the employment history of all those people, under 5 % of years spent in employment would be from outside the political sphere.

The gene pool in a family gathering in Alabama has more diversity than the Finnish political class.

When you live your life in such seclusion the inevitable result is that you turn inwards and start to develop your own rules and ways of doing things. The Finnish political class isn’t corrupt in the sense that they are crooks and know it. They are simply operating in an environment that is normal to them. Surely Antti Kaikkonen from the Centre Party (married to an MP from the SDP) sincerely didn’t know it was wrong to dole out cash to his own political campaign from a foundation whose board he sat on. It was just business as usual.

Anyone, who has close up experience in how money moves about in the Finnish political arena, cannot possibly be surprised at the current state of affairs. In fact we have only scratched the surface.

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

Thanks Jukka. I've actually been thinking about how the "political class" actually interlocks different elite groups together. What is interesting in these cases is that it shows the cosy relationship between what seems to be the domestically focused business world and the political elites. It's not Nokia bosses who were paying money into KMS to feed on to the Centre Party, it seems to have been mainly provincial businessmen: the IDEA park chap; the snowmobile people in Rovaniemi etc. Nokia would have much bigger fish to fry than getting political support for planning permission to build a(nother) shopping mall in Vantaa.

I can see a 'foreign/security policy elite' through my studies, but it appears to have very little to do with business elite, particularly the non-Helsinki provincial business types. What links all these together are the politicians.

I don't think any of this is new - perhaps actually now there are more distinct elite groups than before with the politicians pulling them all together. What does seem to have changed is the press that is will to poke into a bit more. Are journalists changing somehow? The end of Finlandization? Something along those lines?