National Coalition Party campaign most conspicuous
Candidates are believed to be spending more of their own money than before
The election campaigns of Parliamentary candidates of the National Coalition Party are among the most conspicuous in all of Finland.
In most of the country there is no indication of any shrinking of campaigns as a result of the recent controversy over electoral funding.
Helsingin Sanomat called election workers in all electoral districts except the Åland Islands, and asked for assessments of the most eye-catching campaigns.
While the National Coalition Party’s campaigns were the most visible, candidates of the Centre Party and the Social Democratic Party also had high-profile campaigns, with some variations from one district to another.
The National Coalition Party’s Marja Tiura, the overwhelming vote magnet in the Pirkanmaa district in the 2007 elections, says that she is on the move with a budget that is similar to the one that she had four years ago. In the last elections, her campaign cost EUR 50,000.
“I pay for 90 per cent of the campaign myself, but I have received small donations”, Tiura says.
Her campaign includes newspaper, television, and outdoor advertisements, as well as a number of semi-trailers covered with her election posters, which are parked along alongside main roads in Tampere. “Parked legally”, her aide Krista Uusitalo emphasises.
Centre Party candidates in the Vaasa electoral district are campaigning heavily.
The Centre’s former Party Secretary Jarmo Korhonen, who was said to have hidden away “in a potato cellar” during the electoral funding controversy, is now handing out potatoes to voters as part of his campaign.
Korhonen is spending “at least 80,000 euros” for his campaign, about half of which is to be collected by selling a book of poetry by Aino Suhola.
About EUR 30,000 is coming out of Korhonen’s own pocket. He has borrowed some of the money.
Korhonen, Tiura, and many others have declined to issue a voluntary advance notice of how much they are spending on their campaigns.
Korhonen says that the reason is that “it is only an advance estimate”.
So before the election, it will not be possible to say with certainty which candidate has the most expensive campaign.
In the large electoral district of Uusimaa, several prominent candidates are spending large amounts of money.
The SDP’s Lauri Ihalainen, former President of the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK), is running on a budget of EUR 46,500, which is among the highest budgets for the party.
Most of the money is coming from various labour unions.
Most political experts interviewed by Helsingin Sanomat say that the campaigns of individual candidates have not diminished in size in spite of the new legislation on election funding.
The overall impression is that candidates are using more of their own money than in previous campaigns, as getting outside funding has become more difficult.
Recent fears in the print press of a sharp reduction in election advertising have proven to be unfounded.
Håkan Gabrielsson of the Finnish Newspapers Association says that a slight fall-off in election advertising is expected, but that there is no “catastrophic decline”.
There are newer types of advertising as well. Advertising on internet search engines is targeted and quite inexpensive.
Using Facebook and other social media as a way of making one’s self known is virtually free of cost.
Nevertheless, Helsinki MP Arja Karhuvaara (Nat. Coalition Party) is running a traditional campaign with newspaper advertisements and outdoor posters.
She is financing the EUR 70,000 effort with money that she got selling her apartment.
“Grandmothers do not surf the net”, Karhuvaara sighs.
Previously in HS International Edition:
OSCE election monitors in Finland for Parliamentary vote (5.4.2011)
Consideration of charges in election campaign funding case to be completed in spring (3.1.2011)
Tempers flare over campaign funding at meeting of Centre Party executive and parliamentary group (26.4.2010)
Early voting begins across the country (6.4.2011)
Elections website of the Ministry of Justice