Finland: On the occasion of Stubb winning

Featured image: It was hard for the winner Stubb to hold back his hated smile. Photo: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

We publish this unofficial translation of an analysis of Punalippu.

On Sunday the 11th of February Alexander Stubb (National Coalition) was elected the 13th president of the republic of Finland. He will be inaugurated in two weeks on Friday the 1st of March. Punalippu (The Red Flag) makes an initial analysis of the elections and their significance.

A victory for Finnish democracy?

On the second round of the election the electoral participation decreased to 70,7%, while on the first round it was 75,0% The decrease was the largest there where the support for Halla-aho or Rehn had been higher, which confirms the analysis of Punalippu.1

Of the presidential elections which have been held as direct elections a lower percentage of electoral participation has been on the second round in 2012 (68,9%) and 2018 (69,9%). In the parliamentary elections of last year the percentage of voters was 72,0% .

Alexander Stubb started his winner’s speech by thanking “each and every Finnish voter for that the Finnish democracy won today”. The electoral participation which remained low shows that the crisis of bourgeois democracy is developing in Finland.

Scarce victory, low support

Stubb received 51,6% of the votes given, so Pekka Haavisto who was second got 48,4% of the votes. The difference in the votes between the candidates was nearly 100,000 votes. This is the scarcest difference between the winner and the second candidate in the history of the modern presidential elections.

Haavisto acknowledged the victory of Stubb and both worked so that those who supported Haavisto would give their support to Stubb. Before going to his own election night event he visited the event of Haavisto and praised Haavisto, his spouse Antonio Flores and his whole electoral team and all his voters to the moon. As the main theme of his speech he highlighted: “There is no more team Alex and team Pekka, we only have team Finland.”

34,7% of all those eligible to vote voted for Stubb (also including those living outside of Finland). In other words, only around a third of those eligible to vote voted for Stubb. This is the lowest ever support for the elected president in the modern form of presidential elections in Finland.

The historically low support, by which Stubb was elected, highlights the deep crisis in which the bourgeois democracy is in Finland. Parliamentarism is in crisis as was last emphasized2 by the outgoing president Sauli Niinistö in the opening of the parliament, and the significance of the presidential institution is highlighted as specifically raising over the decaying parlamentarism, as was written in the declaration of Punalippu3.

Reaction continues all along the line

Stubb defines that he would like to continue on the line of Niinistö, but the epoch has changed due to the war of Ukraine and the NATO-membership of Finland. This refers to when Niinistö in his time forbid the minister of foreign affairs Stubb and minister of defense Carl Haglund (Swedish People’s Party) public discussion about NATO in the situation where Russia had annexed Crimea.

Stubb will however continue the line which was already defined in the term of Niinistö and under the leadership of Niinistö, and it has two focal points, which he declared as the winner of the elections to the international media. First, “I do not see our NATO-identity through Russia”. This means that Finland does not seek a special relationship to Russia to benefit from it in the EU, in NATO or in the bilateral relationship to the USA, but Finland will strictly hold to a common front with its allies. The expectation is that Stubb wants to build even closer relations to the “west”. Second, he defined that “security politics is an existential question for Finland and hard disputes over it cannot be done in this situation”. This means the traditional consensus – the very same, whose victim he himself once was.

In his own speech of victory Stubb gave one more promise: “I will do my everything to this republic, this dear land of ours, that I will be the one to unite us and that in these restless times peace will remain in this country.” Peace refers to first and foremost to peace within the society over political and class differences, and he repeated multiple times over the course of the evening that it “is difficult to imagine another country where in this situation in the international politics such a fair and honest elections are held”. In this way he defines himself as a corporativist president.

Also for example the researcher Iro Särkkä notes Stubb’s corporativist mission as the guardian of the peace in society: “Now the humbleness and the burden, that he will take this task very seriously and wants to take care that Finland will not be polarized or be separated into blocks, caused by this [presidential] institution and this result, was clearly seen.”

The one who divides

Stubb’s capabilities in foreign policy has been emphasized. It is true that he is in a formal sense very knowledgeable in some questions of foreign policy, especially the EU and transatlantic relations. This has been highlighted because the president needs to unite a large part of the people behind him to fulfill his corporativist task. At the same time it has been wanted to be forgotten that the abilities of Stubb as a leader have not been very appreciated. Significant revelations have been made among others by Elina Valtonen and the chief of economy of the parliament Pertti J. Rosila from the National Coalition.

Based on these the following can be noted on the qualities of Stubb as a leader: 1) arrogant and confident even when he does not know how to do something, 2) ruthless, has a high self-esteem, and sets his own interest and his own ego over even the interests of his group, 3) undemocratic methods from handling things behind closed doors to silencing criticism, 4) weakness in interior policy.

This affects his ability to unite the “whole people” in a corporativist spirit. In a questionnaire done before the elections a third of the Finnish people do not believe that Stubb could unite the people.

The revolutionary opposition

The consequent position of revolutionaries is to oppose the corporativist presidential institution and the whole dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. First of all the new president is supposed to unite the “whole people” but this task is impossible, because the deepest and broadest masses will always reject Stubb or whoever reactionary president. In this context it needs to be highlighted that 30% did not vote neither of the candidates.

Especially difficult for Stubb will be that he has been chosen as president with the lowest ever support in the history of the modern presidential election, and his personal tendencies, which he has tried to forcefully hide during his campaign, instead make it harder for him to succeed in the task.

At the same time it has to be emphasized especially that it is incorrect to criticize Stubb because he is “not the right man” to represent “Finland” or the line chosen by the Finnish bourgeoisie. He might have difficulties in this due to his own quirks, but the main thing is that Finland is an imperialist country and revolutionaries cannot support any kind of “better imperialism” or “imperialism with a human face” but crushing imperialism. Second, the Finnish bourgeoisie has (already before the elections as was shown by the like-mindedness of the candidates) chosen the line which benefits it the most in this moment and it has to be opposed as imperialist without offering another alternative within the framework of the current system, or thus for the current system. Third, the Finnish bourgeoisie has chosen Stubb to uphold this line because it thinks Stubb is the one who will do the best job in this task. Fourth, no line and none of the candidates cannot fulfill what the Finnish bourgeoisie needs because the general crisis of Finnish imperialism and the crisis of bourgeois democracy necessarily continue to worsen. Through this criteria revolutionary critique of Stubb can be separated from non-revolutionary.

1Note by the Red Herald: link to our unofficial translation of the article.

2Link to our unofficial translation of the article.

3Link to our unofficial translation

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