The attendance in Finland’s presidential elections advance voting was surprisingly high both in Toronto and Canada. This indicates that the politics of our homeland still mean a lot to the immigrant Finns and they want to participate in things over the pond.
An interest in Finnish affairs has been on the rise during the recent elections. There are plenty of reasons for this. First, the internet has made our world smaller and it’s easier to follow the news and even live debates on-line.
Another reason is the change in the newcomers’ structure. Without overlooking our predecessors who came here mostly unskilled, without knowledge of English and without a job, now they come speaking the language and with documents ready to work for high paying companies or to study at the university.
Finnish presidents used to be elected through designated electors. First 300 and then 301 electors were voted in the polls. Then they convened to elect a president according to their pre-known devotion.
More than just doing it for honor, these electors tested ground for the parliamentary elections, since they had 2/3 chance of becoming also a parlamentarian in their 200 strong parliament.
During the wartime two Finnish presidents were nominated by the parliament. First Risto Ryti was chosen under the special circumstances and then Carl Gustav Emil Mannerheim. Ryti paid a high price, because Soviet Union ordered him to be jailed as a “war culprit”.
Later on Mannerheim was actually in an unconstitutional position, since he also held the post of supreme military commander the same time. However nobody dared to question redeemed leader’s duality.
In many countries presidents only have a nominal power and they are rather just ceremonial masters, while the prime minister pulls all the strings.
Relatively the greatest power belongs to the president of the United States and France, but Finland also ranks high. Our president leads the foreign policy together with the government.
Sometimes it causes dilemmas at the European foreign policy meetings, when there’s only one chair to be filled by turn depending on the agenda.
Actually Finland could have a king, if things went the other way. After the War of Independence there was a movement that sought a king, Väinö I for Finland. Perhaps, according to the Kalevalan tradition, we might now have Queen Louhi II.