Skip to comments.Eurozone woes drive Finnish presidential campaign
Posted on 01/02/2012 1:43:51 AM PST by bruinbirdman
Finland's presidential candidates are locking horns over the eurozone crisis as the January 22 election looks set to reflect a surge in euroscepticism in one of Europe's top-rated economies.
"The dividing lines between the candidates follow the EU issue pretty closely," Helsinki University political science professor Tuomo Martikainen told AFP.
The eurozone slowdown brought on by the debt crisis is expected to hit Finland's export-reliant economy hard, with growth expected to slow to just 0.4 percent in 2012 and with Finns nervous about the future although unemployment is for the moment still comparatively low at 7.3 percent.
Finland's future in the eurozone and the wider EU has thus become a bone of contention as popular President Tarja Halonen prepares to leave office after her second term in office.
Although the presidential post no longer holds direct sway over European Union policy, Martikainen said the issue "is pretty close to the hearts of voters and it's also easy for them to identify the views and the candidates along those lines."
While former finance minister Sauli Niinistoe who is leading the polls is strongly pro-euro, a strong showing by eurosceptics could further constrain the coalition government's room for manoeuvre.
The eurozone debt crisis dominated the April parliamentary elections with the europhobic Finns Party surging to become Finland's third largest party.
Finns Party leader Timo Soini
Coalition political constraints pushed the new Finnish government to demand collateral for any new Greek aid, delaying quick adoption of a new deal.
Although it has a population of only 5.3 million, Finland is one of an elite club of eurozone members to still hold a triple-A credit rating and is key to any bailout deals.
Finland also joined forces with Germany and the Netherlands in October in pushing for private investors
(Excerpt) Read more at france24.com ...
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703864204576310851503980120.html Opinion piece of the leader of the True Finn party in the Wall Street Journal.
"Europe is suffering from the economic gangrene of insolvency . . ."
If no single presidential hopeful receives more than 50 percent of the vote in Sunday’s election, the race will go into a second round on February 5th.
Initial results are largely based on advance votes cast between between January 1117.