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Presidential Election 2012
The Ombudsman for Minorities Eva Biaudet has been unveiled as the Swedish People’s Party’s candidate in next January’s presidential elections. Biaudet must receive the endorsement of the party’s conference meeting in October, but this is thought to be a mere formality. She announced her candidacy yesterday at a press conference alongside former SFP presidential candidate Elisabeth Rehn, who made it through to the second round against eventual victor Martti Ahtisaari in the 1994 presidential race. SFP’s previous leaders and other prominent figures from the party were also alongside Biaudet, showing that she has widespread support at least amongst the party’s top. She had been widely tipped as being SFP’s candidate for some time in the media.
Before being minorities ombudsman, Biaudet worked at the OSCE in Vienna on issues surrounding human trafficking. She has previously been a government minister and parliament member in Finland.
Biaudet could prove to reach out across the language divide and pick up Finnish-speaking votes. Whilst I can’t see her repeating the success of Rehn in 1994, she is a liberal figure that may prove popular amongst those disappointed with the current harder debate climate on matters such as immigration bought about largely because of the recent rise of the True Finns party in national politics. She is also looking likely to be the only woman amongst a field of otherwise ageing men in grey suits. She is also untainted by recent national political involvement which could prove to be an advantage, she also has international experience. I personally think that Biaudet is a great candidate in this election. Someone who would provide Finland with a respectable figurehead internationally at this time when our reputation has become somewhat tainted by the populist wave experienced during our parliamentary elections. It is also important that SFP has a candidate in the election. Even if there is little chance of an SFP candidate getting to the second round or elected, the election provides many forums to debate political issues, even those not directly related to the president’s limited powers. SFP needs to be there debating these issues otherwise it risks becoming invisible to the electorate. With a candidate in the election, SFP can now be sure to be able to take part in the coming debates in the run up to the January election.
And let’s not forget, a lot can happen during this autumn and winter. No one would have predicted that Elisabeth Rehn would have made the second round in 1994 at this stage of the campaign. So, let’s not rule anything out just yet.
Pictured: Eva Biaudet (left) and Elisabeth Rehn (right)