Who needs a great leader?

Recently there have been some low-level chatter about one of the eternal topics of Finnish politics, the role of the President. Last week Seppo Tiitinen, the Secretary General of the Parliament, argued for full-on parliamentarism. He has something like the German model in mind. According to him, countries that are comparable to Finland usually no longer trust in a great leader. (Since when do people see Tarja Halonen and Martti Ahtisaari as great leaders?)

Social Democratic party leader Eero Heinäluoma endorsed Tiitinen's point that now would be a good time to talk about the issue, because the discussion will become more difficult the nearer we get to the next presidential election. Now is a rare opportunity to change the constitution without an interjecting presidential election, and with the current head of state at the end of her term limit. In theory, then, people can take a stand without considering the identity of the current or next President.

In any case, on the changes suggested by Tiitinen, Heinäluoma declared his position to be open. Of course, back in 2005 (fi) Heinäluoma said that citizens can decide in the next (i.e. the latest) parliamentary elections what sort of powers they wish the President to have. His party supports - or at least supported - maintaining the current arrangement. This neatly shows another way in which elections pose difficulties for would-be reformists; they entice politicians to take a stand for the rather popular status quo.

In other news (fi), although official parliamentary work on the topic will start only in autumn 2008, parties are already considering their positions. Kimmo Kiljunen, a Social Democratic MP, said that one of the issues under consideration will be whether to have presidential elections at all; if the President is elected in a popular vote, she must also have real power. Kimmo Sasi MP, representing the National Coalition Party, would hold elections even for a figurehead President - to soften the blow, I guess.


Giustino said...

What does Heinäluoma mean? In Estonian 'hein' is 'hay' and 'loom' is 'animal'.

Is his name Eero Hay animal?

Ari said...

"Haybrook", roughly. In Finnish "eläin" means "animal".

bunsen_lamp said...

The word that cognates here is Estonian verb 'looma', meaning 'to create' or 'to make.' Of course, 'loom' (animal) also is something that is created or made (by gods), but Haymaker is the thing you're looking here.

Ari said...

To add to my previous explanation, the Finnish word "luoda" means "to create" and "luoma" is one of its forms, translating roughly as "created by" (e.g. "Eeron luoma" = "created by Eero"). But in the context of people's surnames, "luoma" generally means a sort of a small river.