Those of you who follow this blog and my Twitter stream know how exercised I get about politics and elections in particular. And that my great regret is that I cannot vote here in the UK.
A short explanation of how I’ve got myself into this situation follows:
As a result from this rather surprising development, Finns decided that they’d protect their fragile independence next to the mighty Mother Russia with all the legislation they could muster. One of these pieces of law was not to allow dual citizenship.
Later, as a concession, children born to one Finnish and one foreign parent abroad could have dual citizenship until they were eighteen, only if the parent retained his/her Finnish passport. So you can see, for me there was no alternative but to keep my Finnish citizenship. I wanted my children to be Finnish as well as British.
When Finland changed the law, it coincided more or less with the 18th birthdays of my children. In any case, by the time we sorted out the children’s dual citizenships, the process of applying and gaining UK citizenship had been tightened up and made more expensive.
Not being a UK citizen doesn’t normally affect me at all. Not until there is an election. I studied Political Science at the School of Economics, and worked at the BBC as a translator/journalist focusing on politics and economics in particular. Voting is a right (particularly for women) that has been bitterly fought over. Who’s in government affects me personally and what happens in the country I live. The importance of exercising your right to vote is also an old hobby horse of mine.
For me watching the run-up to the elections and the results programme is like having your hands tied behind your back and being gagged. Luckily I haven’t been, so I can still make my own kind of analysis of this, the most unusual British result.
Firstly, I want to know why this result is such a surprise. The country is in financial turmoil; the world is in financial turmoil. None of the parties dealt with the real issues honestly during the campaign, something that was for once picked up by the media. No-one told the electorate where the cuts in public spending were really going to come from, apart from cutting down on a few paper clips in Whitehall. Not one of them discussed immigration in real terms, i.e. that the UK actually needs more young people to pay for the pensions deficit in the next 50 years and so. And that having these people come from somewhere like Poland would actually be quite handy. Or that it’s pretty difficult to put a limit on immigration from another country in the EU. Or that immigration is a two way street: emigration being the other side of the coin. Talk to the Spaniards living on the Costa del Sol for example.
I also believe the British electorate had to elect blindly -or on the basis of which one of the leaders looked trustworthy enough during three televised debates, which were so stage managed, nothing interesting transpired. So is it any wonder there wasn’t a landslide for one particular party?
As far as the electoral system goes, having been a supporter of proportional representation for years (we have PR in Finland), I think if anything, this election has shown that the UK is not in favour of electoral reform. The LibDem vote did not change significantly. Their policies just did not stack up in the harsh light of day. I was astonished when they published their manifesto: to radically change income tax at a time when the country’s economy is on a knife edge is sheer madness and speaks of a party that does not believe it will form a government (on its own at least).
So what’s the future? I am of the opinion that Cameron should form a caretaker government and announce a new election in six months’ time. But only because by then I also might have got my act together and applied for British citizenship. See, we all just think about ourselves. Sadly, that also seems be true about the politicians.