Lesson 3: Political parties,  part 1

Lesson 3: Political parties, part 1


Hi, my name is Anneli Portman and in this lesson
of Finnish political culture and system, we will look at political parties. What did the voters in Finland do last year? They voted in an array of different parties and
party members into the Parliament. You can see from the color codes
how many parties got in. What are these parties like? Well, that will we’ll see later, but first of all, you can see that the latest
party support shows a different picture from what you will see a little bit later on So, how popular a party is is a fluctuating thing,
usually what they stand for is more stable. The largest party is the Centre Party,
as it was during the elections, and the least supported one are the Christian
Democrats, as they where in the last election. Let’s look at what is really inside the parties in Finland. The special feature of the whole system is that there is a very high degree of fragmentation. There are many parties represented in the Parliament
and actually the Finnish system is one of the most fragmented in
Western European countries. No one party is larger than all the others, which means
that the parties have to cooperate with one another. There is an increasing weakness of the leftist parties, their supporters in decline. Now,
their combined support is around 40%. Leftist parties have 46 seats in the 200
seats of the Parliament. The Finnish party system also displays an amazing stability of the strength of the Centre Party. Its agrarian roots mean that it
has for decades occupied a very center position in the agrarian, more rural voters, and has been able to maintain that regardless of
the people moving more to the cities. Also, there is an absence of a single Liberal Party. The Greens and the Swedish People’s
Party occupy sort of the liberal stands, but there is no one party that would
profile itself as a completely liberal party. In Finland, it is very rare for a
single party or for an electoral alliance to win majority of the votes even within
one single electoral district. No party has ever won a
majority of the seats in the Parliament. The closest is 28.3% by the Social Democrat Party. What are the parties like then here in
Finland? There are 10 registered parties, eight of these registered parties are currently in the Parliament, and of these, three are in the Government. The three in the Government are the Centre Party,
the Finns, and National Coalition Party. How do these parties differ from one another? There is no religious cleavage, for one. Traditionally, parties were differing from one another on the left and right dimension. Now, rural-urban, or centre-periphery, divide has become much more important and that is again
linked to the preference for national sovereignty, versus preference for international alliances. Economic growth and nature conservation is another source of cleavage. If you think back on the values that were
talked about in the first lesson, you can understand why these two form a dimension along
which people differ in their opinions. Liberalism and conservatism also is now dividing parties differently than they used to be before. Lastly but not least importantly, the attitudes about
bilingualism in Finland also divide the parties. This is a chart that was made in 2013 but it still
expresses quite well the division of the parties. They can be divided along the left and right dimension but also along the dimension of whether they support socialism or capitalism, conservatism or liberalism. The Finns are in this chart in two places because of
the party’s ideological fragmentation. Here you can see, that the most conservative party is not the National Coalition but the Christian Democrats. The most liberal ones are the Greens and the Swedish Folk Party. As to the Social Democrat Party,
it is closer to the center than it is to left. One of the voting advice applications did a what-if stance and found out that if there were
only two parties even today, the main cleavage would be left to right. If there were three parties instead
of all the eight we have, the main cleavages would be along the lines of
whether they support or are against the EU, whether they uphold liberal or conservative values, or green versus not green values.

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