As we all know Finns have been hugely proud of the “low corruption index”, while on the other hand “everyone knew” the political scene was a pile of manure just sitting there in the back of the yard. The old wisdom said “Shit don’t stink unless you go poking it” and now that shit has hit the fan. I don’t know how much the readership of this blog knows about the intricacies of Finnish politics, or the constitutional dependencies of the president, parliament and the cabinet, but mildly put the government right now is in neck deep, and any move they will make means more trouble.
The whole issue is about election funding – the whole stinkpot started bubbling already in May when it came clear that the legislation over party funding and especially its transparency were so full of loopholes that in principle there were no reprecussions for not disclosing where a politician got the money. Different parties came forward wanting to come clean and at the same time started to make all kinds of “privacy” excuses for not revealing their funding sources. Quite showing the slimy nature of politics the Left League was at first vocal demanding all parties open their books, but after the Left League was asked of their own funding the excuse was “the treasurer is on summer holiday”.
Unlike political scandals usually, this all wasn’t forgotten over the holidays. The parties started divulging their sponsors but the bankruptcy of Nova Group investment company started the domino effect. The investment company had channeled several hundred thousand euros towards the Centre party and the bankruptcy court eventually has sued the Centre party to return the monies as misappropriated assets. The Nova Group’s business dealings and municipal zoning started to raise questions of corruption, but more was to follow. As the different sources of money were investigated, centre party politicians were found to be in leading positions in government organizations and foundations that had then channeled money back to the party coffers. Of course the Prime Minister doesn’t see any troube in this kind of funding.
Now the other parties definitely don’t have unblemished reputations either, after all its a well-known fact the Social Democrats get huge funding out of the different unions’ and the Swedish Peoples Party from its rich cultural foundations. Which isn’t technically wrong if the purpose of the foundation or organization in the rules is actually to support political parties. Meanwhile the different opposition parties are starting to demand for the cabinet to resign and even a new early parliamentary election. Which provides an interesting dilemma – the Prime Minister, neck deep in the scandal is highly unlikely to call for a new election as his own party would definitely lose. The President’s powers have been curtailed, so she cannot dissolve the parliament either. And for the parties now in government, their outlooks of getting to form a new government looks slightly bad. The professor of public law from the University of Jyväskylä dryly stated that “in a Western Democracy the government would have resigned already”
The funding issues have caused several government organizations starting from the parliamentary ombudsman to start investigations regarding party funding, and it seems there might be more and more revelations as the weeks pass. So far there has been outrage over the fact that
blatant tax evasion creative tax planning seems to be rife, and the secrecy of the funding has raised the question wasn’t the government-paid party support money supposedly put in place so that parties could function without dodgy support. There will be a lot more shit hitting the fan before the politicians can withdraw back to their cabinet schemings, so if the opposition manages to pull off a vote of no confidence we might well be looking for some interesting campaigning already this winter and not have to wait for 2011. Even though the politicians in power are definitely hoping that the shitfan will run out of power next year and the nations’ memory fade any moral outrage by the next. And we all can go sleep again peacefully as “there is no corruption in Finland”.
- UPDATE - The opposition parties made a statement today suggesting the Prime Minister to “make conclusions” over the issue. The Cabinet announced it shall be giving its “Government report to the Parliament” over the election funding issue – after which there shall be a “vote of confidence”. The discussion over the issue is still waiting the PM who is at the moment in the USA attending an United Nations Climate Change Conference.