When the votes on Finland’s membership at the UN Security Council were being counted in mid-October, I was enjoying a wonderful dinner at Noa in Limassol. It was a great way to receive the results: some good wine, halloumi cheese, a warm evening and friends to share it all with.
For those who didn’t follow the election so closely, here are a few facts. The Council has 10 non-permanent members, five of which were now elected for two-year mandates 2013-2014. Member states can put forward their candidacies inside geographical groups: Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and Western Europe, the latter including Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Finland was competing with Australia and Luxembourg in the Western European group. A candidate needs 129 votes to get through, and the election is held at the General Assembly.
So, the first round was pretty clear. Australia got 140 votes, Luxembourg 128 votes and Finland 108 votes. In the second round, Luxembourg got 131 votes and Finland 62 votes.
We got left out. Luxembourg has never been a member before, Finland has been a member twice, in 1969-70 and 1989-90.
Various explanations started emerging in prominent Finnish media, with comments referring to the low levels of campaign funding, inadequate development cooperation funds, our focus on women’s rights, Finland not being a member of Nato, the fact that Luxembourg has never been a member before, and even the personalities of people in high-level positions.
Rock bottom was hit when someone said (link in FIN) the problem is in the voting practices: a secret ballot makes it easy to manipulate votes, in the sense that despite of expressing their support, countries can vote in privacy. That it’s not fair.
Dear me. I don’t think anyone could have made a more Finnish argument on the issue. Yes, Finnish people are very honest, straight-forward, we keep our word and we usually make no empty promises to begin with. But at such high level of politics, can you really, honestly claim that the problem is in the voting system? In the way others vote?
Usually, us Finns, we base everything on the best possible argument. And then we’re every time equally surprised it doesn’t bring us the results we were expecting.
One of the best analyses (link in FIN) I read on this issue claims that our stand is not clear. We’re not really committing to anything, we’re sharing a little resources here and a little there and talking in riddles about our international activities. Maybe other countries simply don’t know where we are on various issues.
In addition, I presume we don’t place much emphasis on small talk, good times, human interest in other people, networking, or simply making sure our vote has some meaning to someone else when voting on some other issue.
♠ In the meantime: Had to stay up half the night to see what happens in the municipal elections. The turnout is devastating: only 58,2%. My quick analysis: our life is too easy, we don’t need to care anymore. Can it really be true?
♥ Song of the day: Depeche Mode, Judas