Cold War legacy

On Monday Aamulehti published a little survey (fi) of historians on the topic of Finlandization. Predictably they wanted more research done, which is fair enough. What I found disagreeable in the article, however, was Professor Henrik Meinander's argument that the "grip of Cold War" is to blame for Finland's not entirely parliamentarian system of government - that "Kekkonen's long shadow" showed in the '90s constitutional reform so that power wasn't moved entirely to the government.

I think the exact opposite is the case. Urho Kekkonen's legacy was a big reason why power was moved from the President to the government. As I've written before, the changes addressed the most negative sides of his presidency. If you replace him with a string of presidents who use their powers in a more modest and uncontroversial manner, it's questionable whether any reform at all would have occurred. These sort of arrangements tend to have a great deal of inertia.

Meinander also says (my translation), "In a normal Western country foreign policy decisions can be voted upon in the parliament. In Finland it is feared that the parliament is so immature in the area of foreign policy that it mixes up road construction debates with foreign and security policy."

I'd take issue with the definition of a "normal Western country" as one which places all foreign policy power on the government and the parliament Such prototypically Western countries as France and the United States don't fit this model. As for not trusting the parliament on foreign policy issues, again we're discussing something that predates the Cold War. (See, for example, the section on the "Long Parliament" in the recently reviewed Kansanvalta koetuksella.)

To be fair, maybe there's more to Meinander's argument than could fit on the pages of Aamulehti.

PS: The article prompted historian Markku Jokisipilä to post a presentation he gave on the topic of remembering the post-war era in Finland. (Scroll down past the Finnish introduction for the English portion.) It's pretty good.

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