Centre Party reports vandalism of election hoardings to police
Sightings of dozens of artfully replaced campaign posters in Greater Helsinki area
As the election campaign enters its last week, there are signs that things are hotting up somewhat and that a new kind of election vandalism has made landfall here.
The Centre Party has filed a report of an offence concerning a campaign to ridicule Prime MInister Mari Kiviniemi.
During the campaign, some activists have replaced a number of Centre Party election campaign posters by posters that disarmingly resemble the originals but carry a text that suggests Kiviniemi - known to have received support from fur farmers - advocates bad treatment of animals.
In a poster carrying a picture of Centre Party leader Kiviniemi, she has blood in her mouth and dripping from the corner of her mouth.
In another defaced poster, a fox is suffering in a small cage. Imitating the Centre Party’s style, the headline says: Kettu ilman virikkeitä. Asiaa. (”A fox without stimuli. Right.”)
Dozens of sightings have been made of such defaced posters in the Greater Helsinki area.
The Centre Party attempts to swap the defaced posters for the real ones without delay.
According to Centre Party Secretary Timo Laaninen, the party is discussing with the police how the posters could be swapped without disturbing the investigations.
It is not known yet whether the Centre Party’s posters have been targeted by similar vandalism elsewhere in Finland, Laaninen notes.
Centre Party Information Officer Matti Mönttinen says that the party is expressing strong disapproval of vandalism targeting election campaigns.
”We have an absolute zero tolerance policy towards this kind of activity”, Mönttinen notes.
Mönttinen is making a serious request to the public that all political parties and voters should now be left in peace during the elections.
When Helsingin Sanomat made a short inspection round in the district of Kallio, fake posters were found for example in the Vaasanaukio square, as well as in Hämeentie and on the Pitkäsilta Bridge.
However, in the Vaasanaukio square, other parties’ election campaign posters had been destroyed, too.
For example, the plywood boards of the posters of the Centre Party and the Swedish People’s Party had been folded into half.
A poster of the party called For the Poor had been covered by a ”work of art” made from the seat of a pinewood chair, and the candidate’s eyes had been scratched out.
In Hämeentie, the fake poster of Kiviniemi had already been kicked to pieces, and the eyes that had been painted glistening blue had been scratched.
The fake posters have been made so professionally that in spite of the cruel text, a casual passer-by does not necessarily realise that they have been targeted by vandalism.
Finnish elections in the past have certainly not been short of poster vandalism, but it has hitherto been much more of the felt-tip pen and blunt object variety, involving the scrawling of obscenities, painting of Hitler-style moustaches or Clockwork Orange eyes on candidates' faces, or crude violence - this looks to have been be a good deal more carefully arranged.
”She has been eating strawberries or something”, estimated pensioner Jaakko Kesäläinen when looking at the Kiviniemi poster on Pitkäsilta bridge.
Whether the posters had been replaced, Kesäläinen could not tell with certainty at first glance.
”I believe that they have been switched”, Kesäläinen says after having looked at the fox poster for a while.
Previously in HS International Edition:
One arrested, two released in scuffle involving right-wing extremists at National Coalition Party election tent in Oulu (11.4.2011)
True Finns´ aggressive campaign style riles other parties (8.4.2011)
National Coalition Party campaign most conspicuous (7.4.2011)
Elections website at the Ministry of Justice