Aila Paloniemi, Member of Parliament for the Centre Party.

MP Talk gives members of parliament the opportunity to share their views on Finnish society with an international audience. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Helsinki Times.

Fundamental principles of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), as well as individual freedoms and rights, have been brutally violated – both in areas of conflict and individual participating states.

Have you ever noticed that the companies who spend the most money on marketing deliver the worst customer service? This is particularly true of customers offering services, where what we judge them on maybe more the experience than any physical product that we can take home and use.

On February 27 the Parliamentary Committee on Justice rejected the case for Same-Sex Marriage by the narrow margin of 9 votes to 8. This was made just a little more tense by the two Finns Party MP’s voting against the proposal, despite having suggested during their election campaigns that they would support it.

What interests me about this defeat is that Finland generally seems to be a fairly liberal country. Few eyebrows were raised when Finland came within a few thousand votes of electing the world’s first openly gay head of state last year. His boyfriend even went on to appear in Dancing With The Stars, something unlikely to happen in the near future in the US or UK.

A strange thing happened in the US sometime during the 1980s – Americans discovered food. While Mexican, Italian and Chinese immigrants had been producing wonderful food since their arrival in the US, it was only in quite recently that ordinary people began to embrace and recreate what their neighbours were eating.

As ethnic cuisine blossomed and morphed into so-called fusion cuisine, the concept took hold and spread around the world to such an extent that cities like Toronto, Sydney and Auckland came to be as famous for the innovation and quality of their food as they had once been for its blandness and mediocrity.

1: Low Crime

Though plenty of people still complain about the rate at which bicycles disappear here, by and large Finland is one of the safest countries in the world. House break-ins are rare, murders even rarer. Fights in taxi queues aside, street crime is all but non-existent. While the figures on domestic violence and school shootings spoil the picture somewhat, chances are that the average citizen in Finland will probably never be the victim of any serious crime.

Based on an interview by Alisa Nirman on 3.10.2016


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