The Coalition benefited when the campaign focused on the economy and many voters missed the election.
13.6. 21:34 | Updated 13.6. 22:41
“It’s an economy, a jerk!”, Bill Clinton’s assistant James Carville is said to have whispered to his principal during the 1992 U.S. presidential election as men wondered where the election would go. The same can be sighed after these municipal elections. Municipal elections could have been resolved by motoring prices or interest rate restrictions, but the economy, taxes and the Coalition Party eventually rose.
As of this writing, the final results are not yet known. What is clear, however, is that the Coalition Party became by far the largest party in the election with more than 20 per cent support. Juhana Vartiainen will be the mayor of Helsinki.
The SDP lost its support but held second place. The increase in basic Finns clearly increased their support for the municipality, but did not reach the level of pre-election surveys. The center lost, but chairman Annika Saarikko can sigh with relief after the party avoided the dreaded catastrophe. For the Greens, the election was a big disappointment.
The big losers included democracy, as the turnout was poor: 55.1%.
Spring revolutionized electoral settings. In Yle’s first poll in February, the SDP was still the clear number one, with the Coalition Party only in third. The Coalition’s situation seemed to deteriorate further when the controversy between the Conservatives and the Liberals led to the withdrawal of Kirsi Piha, who had been nominated as Helsinki’s mayoral candidate.
However, the Coalition gathered its line with the “heart is right” economic theme. Good things cannot be achieved if the economy is not in order, President Petteri Orpo reiterated during the election. The message sank well. Orpo will continue in a strong position after the election.
Instead, the election campaign was again difficult for the SDP. Already in the 2019 parliamentary elections, the party was about to lose its clear lead, now it happened. The party benefited for a long time from the fact that the coronavirus epidemic strengthened the role of the state and caused citizens to gather around their leaders.
However, the buoyancy ran out. As the spring progressed, the fading of the epidemic made room for other themes in politics, which disbanded the government and ate the prime minister’s favor. The Sdp still built its campaign heavily on Sanna Marin’s personality, so the May breakfast fuss was awkward for the party.
Identity themes did not catch fire during the election spring, which may indicate a more permanent seriousening of the social atmosphere. During a global pandemic and the escalation of superpower relations, for example, arguing about the Summer Stream may not seem very important.
Jussi Halla-aho, the leader of the Basic Finns, who guided the party towards the traditional right-wing, also seemed to notice the change. Halla-aho’s speech on the removal of universal binding was such anti-populism that many in the party may see it as a mistake. Halla-aho did not get exactly the same energy in the campaign as in the parliamentary elections.
In advance there was a lively vote, but on election day people did not go to the polls. The low turnout probably benefited the Coalition and harmed basic Finns, perhaps also the Greens. Basic Finns have a lot of insecure voters, which they feared they would be left grilling, ie joining the “Kassler Party” baptized by Juho Rahkonen, Research Manager of Economic Research.
The Greens were weighed down by an unfortunate uproar over the suspected breach of duty by Mayoral candidate Anni Sinnemäki.
The governing parties wished a nice atmosphere on election day. Corona restrictions were relaxed during the election. The mood was also lifted by the Owls with their surprise victory from Denmark. It turned out that the politicians from side to side were sworn friends of football.
In-depth analyzes of what ultimately turned the election to the Coalition will be done later, but the first can be offered now: it was the economy, the jerk!
The editorials are HS’s statements on a topical issue. The writings are prepared by HS’s editorial and reflect the magazine’s principles.