2005-03-07

Finland shows the way

Once in a while, when I grow tired of the nostalgic gridlock that dominates Swedish (government) politics I look eastwards.

Finland leads by example. Having endured wars in the 20th century and having been paralyzed for decades by the proximity to the threatening Soviet Union this small country has regained strength in no time at all. Not only has their economy recovered. Finland has also repositioned itself to become an important member of the Union.

Finland is pragmatic. For several years the country was governed by a big coalition from left to right. Partisan bickering was set aside and the politicians joined forces to change course after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Finland is realistic. While Sweden wasted decades on a fruitless debate about nuclear power (and has now begun to shut down fully functional power plants) Finland drew the right conclusions from the threat of global warming and is now busy building its fifth reactor. Nuclear power will prove paramount in facing climate change and Sweden used to be a world leader in this field. No more. By now we’re even dependant on importing electric power.

Finland is courageous. They joined the Union at the first opportunity while Sweden, with its relative freedom from the Soviet Union, could have done so a generation earlier. When the monetary union was formed, Finland joined at once. Again, compare with Sweden. Just like Finland we’ve agreed to join the single currency while joining the Union in 1994. Due to lack of leadership we simply haven’t lived up to this promise and by now it’s anybody’s guess how long this will take.

Finland is vigilant. Having learnt from history they know the realities of being a small country next to Russia. While Sweden is moving backwards, dismantling its remaining military power, Finland is already half way into NATO. In an area where Swedish politics offers taboos and invocations about neutrality Finland has a realistic debate.

Finland shows the way.
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