Post-election lull in blog writing by political leaders
Leaders of small parties and rank-and-file Parliamentarians busiest bloggers
The enthusiasm of leaders of Finland's government parties for writing on-line diaries seems to have largely evaporated since the March Parliamentary elections.
National Coalition Party leader Jyrki Katainen has written only one entry into his blog since the elections. Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen (Centre) and opposition Social Democratic Party leader Eero Heinäluoma have only made a few entries since election.
However, there are signs of a possible resurgence in the Finnish political blogosphere. Vanhanen told Helsingin Sanomat that his blog focuses on important periods such as elections, and that he had little energy to write much immediately after the elections.
"I will activate it gradually. It is most important for me to have it available as a possibility.
Heinäluoma's aides said that the opposition leader's blog, which has been dormant since the beginning of May, will get more entries very soon.
Great expectations have been placed on politicians' blogs for some time now. It has been said that they increase direct communications between citizens and politicians. However, blog writing by leading Finnish politicians has been fairly meagre.
The busiest political blog writers have been either ordinary Members of Parliament, or leaders of small political parties.
Green MP Jyrki Kasvi is in a class of his own as a blog writer. He says that his blog gets 3,500 hits a day. His pages are also among the most popular in the blogilista.fi service.
"It is just as common for me that people on the street will come and talk about my blog, as it is for them to say ‘hey, you're and MP, aren't you?'" Kasvi says.
As Kasvi sees it, a good political blog needs to have a personal dimension - otherwise it easily turns dull.
Of the party leaders, the chairs of smaller parties are the most active writers. The Christian Democrats' Päivi Räsänen has updated her blog almost on a daily basis since the Parliamentary elections.
Räsänen comments recent news events, describes her family life, and takes stands on political themes.
One of Finland's first front-row politicians to write a blog has been Erkki Tuomioja (SDP) who continues to write actively.
Few politicians let readers write comments into their blogs. In the case of the Prime Minister, the comments would probably have to be screened in advance, which could be rather cumbersome.
Jyrki Kasvi insists, however, that comments in the blog are the main idea.
"politicians have been too sensitive about allowing comments", Kasvi says.
Left Alliance chairman Paavo Arhinmäki is among the rare breed of politicians that allows his blog readers a voice.
In addition to encouraging comments and serious political debate, feedback has included messages such as "you're pretty stuck up" and "have you been drinking during the summer?".
Of Finland's Members of the European Parliament, Alexander Stubb (Nat. Coalition Party) updates his blog quite frequently. In addition to articles, pictures, and readers' comments, Stubb includes video clips in his blog.