Sunday, January 29, 2006

Presidential Election Day 06 in Finland

51.8% for Tarja Halonen (of the Social Democrats, a socialist and the incumbent) and 48.2% for Sauli Niinistö (of the National Coalition, a conservative and the challenger).

That's the final result with all votes counted. For those of you who don't know, I rooted for Niinistö. He was the candidate of the party I've been a member of for over 10 years. And he has been by far the face and leadership of the party for all those years, as far as I'm concerned. Even though he hasn't been chairman for quite some time.

In any case, this is technically a defeat for all the folks who don't care much for Tarja Halonen's left leaning, socialist politics. On the other hand, the result is very much what was predicted at the polls, so its not a huge surprise to anyone. My own personal result prediction was accurate within a percentage point, both with the advance voting results (55% for Tarja and 45% for Sauli) and the final result (48-49% for Sauli and 52-51% for Tarja).

So, what's the silver lining in all of this ? It is the fact that this turned out to be an election after all, and a rather exciting and narrow one at that. Nothing like the sure thing it was predicted to be some months ago, when Tarja had strong numbers in the polls. As everyone knows the election day is quite different from the monthly or bi-monthly presidential job approval polls, in which Tarja had traditionally garnered very strong support and approval.

The second positive thing is that Niinistö's strong showing in the election, over 48% of the vote, should send a clear signal to Halonen that not everyone in Finland is on board or agrees with her policies and values. She has already publically acknowledged this on the air during the election night's TV coverage and is also quoted as saying similar things on the Finnish national broadcaster YLE's website.

This is, as I see it, the most important achievement of the elections. To make it known that not everyone in this little land of the Moomins is in love with the Moomin mamma. Oh, and let's not forget the one positive, future possibility this result and the rather well realized co-operation of the two bourgeois parties (the Center Party and the National Coalition) opens. The prospect of a center-right coalition government after the 2007 parliamentary elections.

It might do the SDP some good to be left out of the government after such a long run of governing. Being in the opposition builds character.

Oh, and one last thing. This election result should give Conan O'Brien yet more reason to continue his Finland themed sketches, which have been numerous during the past couple of months. I'm also hoping that president re-elect Tarja Halonen will meet with Conan when he comes to visit Finland around February 11th-14th. Conan's certainly earned a presidential meeting with all of his humorous ads for Tarja.

Some international coverage:
MSNBC Halonen wins Finnish presidency
Reuters: Finland re-elects first woman president
ABC News: Finnish President Wins Another Term
BBC: Finns narrowly re-elect Halonen
CNN: Finland set for close election

YLE and Helsingin Sanomat (in Finnish):
YLE: Halonen toiselle kuusivuotiskaudelle
HS: Tarja Halonen jatkaa presidenttinä


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