One of the fun competitions that the right-wing press here wants to talk about is “Who Will Be The Next President”.
This was a serious point of discussion a few decades back when the Finnish President had the authority to kick politicians off their pedestals when they became too stroppy, but things have changed.
Back in the old days President Kekkonen ran the country’s politics and relationships with the Soviets. Most local folk were afraid of him, and his demands were followed to the word. He is what Trump called a strong leader.
Kekkonen in many ways was a good leader because times then were difficult with the Soviets and the Americans at each other’s throats. Small countries were quickly trampled on – especially ones neighbouring on the Big Bear’s territory.
Kekkonen steered things well and Finland remained staunchly independent then. As a public figure he was hugely respected although his private life was, in some respects, much more lively than that of the present political leadership here in Helsinki!
After his long term in office, 25 years non-stop, subsequent presidents saw a bigger move towards Parliamentary democracy and the presidency saw a significant reduction in powers and authority. These later presidents acknowledged the need for change as the world around us changed swiftly.
Now the president is elected and he or she gets to handle far fewer important formal duties. However, it is clear that the general public continues to show respect towards the institution, even though it is less important that former days. The greatest asset is that present day presidents tend to be older experienced men and women who match the age of other national leaders. Their informal networks can also work wonders because they can always call up one of their equals and have a serious discussion, and be taken seriously.
So to end this story, it is worth noting that the local press here has been promoting a few names as possible presidential candidates. The next presidential election is taking place in early 2024, which is not that too far away!
Some of the names that are put forward are Rehn, Vanhanen, Vapaavuori, Stubb, Niinistö, Aho and Urpiläinen plus a few others…
Here is a list of the bookmaker’s betting results plus short comments from the folk at FinnishNews:
Olli Rehn 20:1 Central banker and sidelined politician from Centre Party – wants to be taken seriously but from small country… super ambitious, but perhaps a little worn – far from sparkling…
Matti Vanhanen 20:1 Center party “Grand Old Younger Man” from Center Party, and taken seriously. No longer so ambitious and solid, very solid…
Jan Vapaavuori 20:1 Former Conservative politician who wanted to be at EIB, then Mayor, then head up Finnish Olympic Committee – restless and ambitious
Alexander Stubb 20:1 Former Conservative PM and minister as well as having a stay at EIB but now lives in Italy where he teaches university students. Athletic ambitions to be first.
Ville Niinistö 10:1 Active Green Party, been an excellent party leader and now MEP. No need to be ambitious because charismatic European personality.
Esko Aho 20:1 Former PM – made good money at Nokia before crash and then joined Russia’s government-owned Sberbank board… should consider retiring, really…
Jutta Urpiläinen 10:1 Interesting younger lady from SDP – hard working as European Commissioner for International Partnerships, building inclusive and equitable partnerships to reduce global poverty, which is a smart job choice.
Sanna Marin 10:1 Social Democrat Party leader and present PM – one of the best Finnish PMs for a long time – rather young and lively but hard working and focused.