Their victory was like a movie.
Let me explain.
Imagine a Hollywood movie. The trope it rides is this: “An unlikely character is elected into a public office”. Could be a backwoods hick running for the presidency; a preschooler nominated for Congress; a pink country unicorn running for the House of Representatives.
In such a movie — set in America, as it is from Hollywood — this upstart will be folksy and streetwise, and ride a sudden, unprecedented, everyone-loves-or-hates-the-hero swell into an exciting close election.
He will not be either a Democrat or a Republican, because one has to think of the feelings of the audience. His program will be one of nice platitudes and rah-rah statements similarly designed to not alienate any significant fraction of the moviegoing public, while still having zazz and pizazz in it! There will be a lot of talk about “making America great again”, probably through some magical small-town grit and work and vague common values that the elites have forgotten.
The other parties will be running insiders, cronies, corrupt rules-lawyers; and they will be baffled by the upstart’s folksy aphorisms and word choices. Expect a scene where three frazzled men in suits consult a dictionary, exclaiming that they can’t find the words in there.
Then the big night — the election! Close calls, last minute high-jinks, and then our upstart wins! Wins big! The enemy is driven out of town, pelted with animal refuse and banana peels! Our hero beams, everyone is happy! The dead rise, the long lost daddy returns, and all is sweetness and light. Close with cheering and high spirits; no sequel.
Now, in Finland, we have the True Finns. They’re not really right-wingers, not really lefties, but draw their supporters and slogans from both. They’re the new guys; they’re been in the Parliament already, but with small numbers, mere 5 out of 200 — now they won 39 of 200, becoming the third-biggest party and three seats away from the biggest. Their leader, Mr. Timo Soini, is a shrewd man with a tendency to come up with all manner of folksy phrases and word choices that are so darn folksy they don’t even actually mean anything.
What scares me here is that this election has been like a Hollywood movie, and no doubt the True Finns see themselves as the heroes of such a “real film” — but reality doesn’t operate by Hollywood rules.
It’s not enough to be the folksy upstart come to clean the stodgy elites away. It would be kind of nice to have some actual experience, too; just being new doesn’t mean you aren’t worse than the plodding old guys.
It’s not enough to make up buzzwords and say you’re going to fix everything. It would be nice to have a realistic plan, too, one that doesn’t involve promising everything and also less taxes.
It’s not enough to be for truth, justice and the Finnish (or American, as may be) way. It would be nice to have a platform that doesn’t sound so ominous, once you think about it — one that doesn’t have all the wrong people cheering. Up with the good old ways! (Down with this artsy multicultural shit!) Finland is a Finnish place, that’s clear! (No to foreign pollution!) All for small-town values! (And if you can’t deal with them, you godless faggot, go to fucking Sweden!) Finnish money for Finnish people! (Not to those starving Africans, or financially desperate Portugal — what, me worry about world economy?) No to Euro-elites and professional political animals! (Yes to isolation and Dunning-Krugerish confidence!) This is a protest vote! (Because any derp is better than the old, as we don’t have no paradise yet!)
And so on.
And above all, unlike in the movies, it’s not enough to win. It’s not enough to stand in the headlines and say “See? The people — they like me! They really like me! The wisdom of the crowds! This is a mandate for any crazy shit I want!” — it’s not enough to smugly smile and think that all will be a cakewalk to paradise now that the election’s won. (Not that — in my barely-amateur opinion — Mr. Soini is that naive; but sweet bleeding arsehole of Christ, the rest of them.)
It would be kind of nice if I could make myself believe those winners don’t expect the credits to roll now, with snapshots of a now inevitable and quick forever bliss, with all the problems and the problematic people just gone away.
Reality doesn’t operate by Hollywood rules. Soon the True Finns and their supporters will be facing the bland realities of parliamentary democracy: and I’m not sure if this means compromises that will disillusion and break them, and marginalize the scary types; or if it will spur them on to some futile, misguided crusade while the important, subtle things go undone. Or maybe they’ll notice that it’s easy to talk big, and act little: that is, it might be the easiest to be like the stodgy opponents in that exciting Hollywood fiction.
(For an editorial not so full of grumbling and foreboding, see Helsingin Sanomat, English version.)