2008-01-07

Presidential election procedure

Re constitutional reform, Aamulehti interviewed (fi) parliamentary Constitutional Law Committee members Kimmo Kiljunen (Social Democratic Party) and Kimmo Sasi (National Coalition Party). Lest my previous post on the topic leave the wrong impression about said gentlemen's opinions, I'll summarize what they had to say.

According to Kiljunen, the Social Democratic representatives involved with constitutional affairs believe that if the President's powers are taken away, electing the President should be left to the Parliament. Kiljunen said that he considers this to be the best alternative.

The article notes that the Social Democrats have traditionally demanded that the President be elected by the Parliament. After the last five presidential elections, however, it shouldn't take a genius to see that the election system is good for the Social Democrats due to the centre-right parties supporting their own candidates and the Left Alliance usually backing the Social Democrat in the race. Why would Kiljunen want to make an unpopular change that is likely to hurt his party's power? I wonder how widespread his kind of thinking is among the Social Democrats.

According to Sasi, the President should be elected through a popular vote, because "There's not yet enough confidence that some electoral college would select the sort of person the people want. And there's no reason to take the election away from the people, even if the powers are reduced." Sasi, too, favors stripping the President of her powers.

The logical options, I think, are a ceremonial head of state elected by the Parliament and a President with real powers elected by the voters. Sasi's argument about the potential for cabinet wheeling and dealing is silly; there'd be no point whatsoever in electing a controversial, unpopular figure to a ceremonial post. If the choice is left to the Parliament, I fully expect our future Presidents to be inoffensive establishment figures. It'll all become frightfully dull.

As far as other parties are concerned, the article says that the Centre Party is undecided, with the party base traditionally supporting a strong President. True Finns chair Timo Soini, who rarely misses these kind of opportunities, announced (fi) that he, at least, likes the current situation.

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