This is a week of committee meetings. All of my comittees – constitutional affairs, internal market, budgetary control and external relations – will meet.
I will try to be in four different places at once…Fortunately there is not too much overlap.
I am trying to focus on the committee work, but I must admit that my mind is constantly drifting towards the Presidential elections in Finland.
Things are looking good. The race is close, much closer than many believed. The two candidates – centre-left Tarja Halonen and centre-right Sauli Niinistö – are neck-and-neck in the opinion polls.
This is remarkable, given that some early opinion polls (a few months ago) were 70-30 in favour of Halonen. In the first round Halonen got 46 percent, against 24 percent for Niinistö.
There seemto be at least three reasons for the dramatic turnaround.
Firstly, there isrealhype around Niinistö. He has become a phenomenon. You can’t really explain why and how it happens, it just does.
Secondly, Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen (Centre Party) has pledged to vote for Niinistö. This is one of the first times that the centre-right parties have been unified. The result is there for all to see.
Thirdly, there is afeeling of change in Finland. The Presidential term is six years. If Halonen were to be elected she would be President for twelve years in total. It would also mean that a Social Democrat would have held the President’s office for over thirty years. A bit odd in country that has a clear centre-right majority…
So I hope we are in for one of the biggest surprises in Finnish political history. Go Sauli, go!
PS. You can check out the homepages of both candidates on www.niinisto.net and www.tarjahalonen.fi.