Finland is famous for having being named as the world’s least corrupt country. This has been the result a number of times in recent years of the organisation Transparancy International’s survey. The Finnish media has always liked to trumpet this fact in the way that small countries do (understandably) like to enjoy moments when they are top of the league.
However, the ongoing party election financing scandal demands some serious reconsideration of our position as a land untroubled by corruption.
An interesting article in this morning’s Hufvudstadsbladet (HBL) reveals an interesting perspective on just why Finland is so clean in the eye’s of the transparency index.
According to Superintendent Jenni Klemola of the Central Criminal Police, who has for the last year been involved in a group actively following corruption cases in Finland, the explanation is simple. We simply don’t use the word corruption very much. She explained to HBL, “The difference between Finland and countries in southern Europe is that we talk about failures of duty, bribery and fraud without using the word ‘corruption’. In corresponding cases on the continent, the media would quickly scream out the news as a new corruption case being revealed.”
Klemola clarifies that there is no internationally agreed definition of corruption. Every country can create its own definition. “The word corruption doesn’t even appear in Finnish legislation. It’s also completely missing from party programmes”, she says.
“Transparency Index, which year after year announces Finland as one of the world’s least corrupt nations, does no scientific comparison to reach its conclusion. The measurement of the corruption index is built on expert statements. And because neither the Finnish media or legal system uses the word corruption, the experts draw the conclusion that the phenomenon doesn’t occur here.”
“Court cases that concern fraud, bribery and failures of duty are not considered. But now I’m waiting, with excitement, this autumn’s survey result”.
Kormela believes that that all forms of abuse of power for one’s own gain should be considered as corruption. Kormela goes on to say that “In Finland, the risk of corruption is greater when so many people have multiple positions of power – in politics, business and sport – that they can easily mix up.”
Kormela is suspicious of the entire Transparency Index. She points out that the index shows that Switzerland is side by side with Finland as one of the least corrupt countries in the world whilst many African nations are amongst the most corrupt – yet, many of the corrupt African heads of state almost certainly have their bank accounts in Swiss banks.
In other news, Centre party and Kokoomus (national coalition party) have their party conferences in Joensuu and Tampere/Tammerfors respectively over this weekend. The Centre party has perhaps received the most criticism during the election financing scandal.
Centre’s party secretary Jarmo Korhonen, who has been accused of being very much involved with the KMS scandal, defended robustly his position on the opening day yesterday (Friday). He told party delegates that he had been working very hard to get funds for the party – saying he’d been eating sometimes 3 lunches a day and suffering an upset stomach due to drinking so much coffee, all for the good of meeting people interested in donating money to the party funds. This went down well with the Centre party delegates. He claimed that the Social Democrats were the real capitalists, receiving the most financial backing. According to him, Centre also received less money than Kokoomus and were way down in 4th place – “even SFP get more money than us from some fund or other of theirs”.
Many of the delegates assembled in Joensuu blame the “capital city’s media” for blowing up the scandal, according to HBL. The Centre party enjoys the majority of its support from communities in rural, agrarian based Finnish-speaking Finland.