Editorial Concerned Greens are pushing out of the shadows, but it is difficult to turn support

The decline in support for the Greens seems to have finally stopped.

Green will hold its party meeting in Joensuu this weekend in a somewhat relaxed and partly anxious atmosphere. The decline in support seems to have finally stopped. In the recent HS poll (18 May), support was 9.1 per cent, compared with 9.0 per cent in April.

However, a real dose of concern is mixed with relief. Support for many Greens is at a catastrophically low level, which is why many fear the Greens are threatening to become a small party again. In the previous parliamentary elections in the spring of 2019, the party still received 11.5 percent of the vote. Even younger activists still remember the early autumn of 2017, when support was 17.5 per cent in the HS poll.

The self-whipping of the Greens was properly launched by the municipal elections in the summer of 2021, in which the party’s share of votes shrank by 4.3 percentage points in Helsinki, even though the party had sought number one in the capital. The result was a shock to many. What Helsinki today, Finland tomorrow was a scary idea for the Greens. In the first regional election in January, the party won 7.4 percent of the vote and fell behind the Left Alliance. The result was only partly explained by the fact that no elections were held in Helsinki.

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Several explanations have been offered to the support party. The party has been seen to have moved ideologically to the left, expelling non-aligned bourgeois who had previously voted for the green. On the other hand, the Greens are not really left-wing in their program, so it is losing young people to the Left Alliance, especially in Helsinki.

Being in the red-green bloc means competing for the same voters with the Demarches and the Left Alliance anyway. Like the Greens, they have young female presidents, so the leadership of the Greens has been overshadowed by the charisma emphasized by the publicity and status of Prime Minister Sanna Marin (sd) in particular.

The coronavirus only highlighted the role of the prime minister and dominated the agenda, but the decline in austerity measures against young people and students fell to the greens. Also in this spring’s security policy debate, the Greens were overshadowed, although its representatives criticized dependence on Russian fossil energy, Rosatom and Russian politics early on.

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The party also failed to escape its shadow last autumn when a successor to Maria Parisalo, who had been on parental leave, was sought to succeed him as chairman and minister. Emma Kari became the Minister and Iiris Suomela the Chairman. It remained unclear to the general public who would lead the party, reinforcing the feeling that there was no gripping surface in the party. At the same time, the image of the Greens as a women’s party was strengthened in public, when Atte Harjanne, who received the most votes in the vice-presidential election, seemed to be left out before rising to the leadership of the parliamentary group.

At the same time, identity politics dominates the picture. The Greens seem to be starting from the fact that they do not need to change but people need to be educated about the goodness of the Greens.

The Greens the reign has by no means been the kind of suffering the public has often shown. The quarrel with the center got a lot of publicity, but really the Greens have gotten through many of their goals. The goal of Finland’s carbon neutrality in 2035 is coming into the Climate Act, the Nature Conservation Act has been reformed, funding for education has been increased, and so on. Of these, however, the party has not made a loud noise.

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There would also be potential for support. In the Youth Barometer, young people’s perceptions are close to the values ​​of the Greens. The reality of climate change is no longer being debated.

Turning support is still difficult, even as the Greens are trying to expand their image with a new political agenda. In Joensuu, it is discussing the removal of Sundays. The party is also working to strengthen its role in the economic debate. So it is looking for a way out of the shadows.

The situation is not entirely new – the position of the Greens on the party map has always been challenging. Now it is also a party that does not control its own public image.

The editorials are HS’s statements on a topical issue. The writings are prepared by HS’s editorial staff and reflect the magazine principle.

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