I'm alright — but politics, hmm...

Recent research on young Finns' world views has elicited many comments on the editorial pages. Helsingin Sanomat (16 November 2001) notes that most young people seem to be satisfied with their lives. At the same time, more and more of them fail to vote in elections. Thus it seems that voting passivity is not related to unhappiness, the paper concludes.

"Young people's lazy participation in elections is a fact which must be explained by something other than frustration or need to protest. In youth culture, politics and political parties especially seem less and less interesting; there is so much else in life. As education levels rise, social questions become more interesting but voting is no longer seen as a citizen's duty or otherwise important.

"Why this is so, is easily understood even by lay people: in practice it doesn't matter very much which party one votes, politics remains the same. There are no clear alternatives available in elections. Alternatives cannot appear in elections because they don't exist in reality either. Voters have seen how the Social Democrats, Conservatives, Left Alliance, the Greens and the Swedish People's Party have enjoyed harmony in the government for over six years already."

Helsingin Sanomat is concerned about the fact that voting passivity seems to remain as an acquired attitude even in later life. On the other hand, the last presidential elections showed that even lazy voters can get excited if the elections seem interesting enough and offer clear alternatives.

The regional daily Aamulehti (15 November 2001) writes that politics is now only one field which competes with young people's other interests in "the societal market". Youngsters can also have influence by buying fair trade products, eating ethically and demonstrating against globalisation.

The left-wing newspaper Kansan Uutiset (15 November 2001) writes that more and more voters feel that no party represents them.

"They may be wrong but what would make them feel otherwise? The situation could be conducive for extreme populist movements, both right-wing and left-wing. Fortunately Finns don't easily get excited about extremism but rather turn their backs on all politics."

See also:

From the archive:

Return to politics?

10 September 2001

Children of Brezhnevites

6 September 2001

Citizens debate democracy

24 August 2001

Why not ask the people?

11 July 2001

[home] [archive] [focus]