It is truly amazing to see how German and Finnish politicians from the Right “just don’t get it!”
In Germany you have the CDU grappling hopelessly for a worthy successor to Ms. Merkel. They could not have picked a worse candidate. He is not popular with the voters, but very popular with his mates in the “party executive” – a group that probably represents self-important people who have wormed their way into the big political parties over the years and want to hang on to these nice easy-going jobs.
Mr. Laschet is a bland suit-wearing man who the Chinese would call “hao-hao xianshen” which translates as “Mr. Goody-Goody” or Mr. Yes Man”… He is seen as a rather grey man without firm views on anything much but wants to please both sides at the same time. Just what we do not need right now when EU reforms and firm leadership are really necessary.
It is already clear that his nomination by the top folk at the CDU is seen as madness by the voting public who will probably vote with their feet, and let the Greens fly in through the window as the largest party. Such an event would not be bad for a country that has seen their politics become a little stale when the leader has held on to her post well past the best-buy date.
In Finland, the same has been happening with the Center Party. It all started with Mr. Sipilä, a rather grey engineer who made a few million euros in early tech companies. After a relatively short stint as an entrepreneur, he then turned to politics and later happened to become Prime Minister in 2015. At first people thought that he was remarkable, but it turned out that he was a political disaster. The party started with a 21% share of the votes in 2015 only to see is fall to just 11,6% in 2019.
The Center Party represents rural Finland but is controlled by a group of big landowners, farmers and forest owners, and of course their cooperative friends in the banking, insurance, retail and dairy sectors.
After his fall from grace, he was then followed by another Party Leader, who was quickly shot down by another Party Leader, both of whom definitely not in any urban fan club, and judging by the continued dismal polls, their current leader is near to being ousted from the rural fan club!
In Germany, the Greens have made progress to become a forward-looking and serious contender for winning the autumn elections. In Finland, they have a strong position and are already sitting in the government.
The big difference between Germany and Finland is that the Finnish Social Democrats have a strong position as the largest party in government. Their leader has done an excellent job in managing Covid-19 and has shown strong and careful leadership of the country in one of the most difficult years of the last 70 years. She is a capable communicator who has also been seen as an outstanding and modern leader amongst her colleagues in Europe. Merkel has done a fine job, but now is the time for political change in Germany…
However, the burning problem for Finland is that the opposition party, the True Finns, are barking hard for attention and are doing it rather well. Their only problem is that none of the other parties want to join them in government because of their history and present policies which range from keeping out foreigners, climate change, higher taxes, and interference from the EU. Their election manifesto promises a lot, without much of a long term plan on how to pay for all of it. Their success has reduced support for the other right-wing parties who are terrified of further losses of voters to the True Finns.
The Center Party and the Conservatives are trying hard to win back voters for June’s less important municipal elections. The next general election is still 2 years away, and that is a lifetime in politics. The Center and the Conservative Parties need to wake up to the cold reality that they have to break away from their old ways. Our society needs more people working, more research and development, more technical education and training, and less support for old industries because we are facing challenges from an ageing population, climate change, and global markets. The bigger political parties need to work together more than ever and not tear society apart.
Photo: From Wikipedia Commons. EU2017EE Estonian Presidency. File was extracted from another file: Tallinn Digital Summit. Handshake Juha Sipilä and Jüri Ratas (37131260940).jpg