A visit from the president

A visit from the president

The president of Finland, Sauli Niinistö, came to speak at the university two weeks ago. As an American, the idea that the president of the country would come to a university to give a speech (not a high-profile capital city university, and not a commencement speech) was mind-boggling. And he's not even the only one to come here! This speech was part of his campaign for re-election in 2018 and all the other major candidates have/will come to campus to speak, too.

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(And yes, there are this many candidates for president. Finland is not a two-party kind of place.)

I tried to get in to Laura Huhtasaari's speech, but the lecture hall was full by the time I got there. She's Finland's equivalent of, say, Sarah Palin, or Marie Le Pen. Most Finns I talk to don't take her terribly seriously, but she definitely had some fans at her speech. I was outside the lecture hall door when she walked in and there were people calling out in support of her.

As for Niinistö, his reception was overwhelmingly enthusiastic. He almost got a standing ovation when he walked in the door but he put a stop to it before it got going (by motioning with his hands to please sit the heck down). I stayed for the first 30 minutes of his apparently off-the-cuff speech about foreign policy issues, in which he used a document camera (!) to hand-draw a diagram showing the relationships between the US, Russia, EU, and China.

I can't vote in this election (not a citizen; haven't lived here long enough, etc.), so I felt a little bad that I took up a seat in the lecture hall. But it was an amazing experience to hear the president of Finland speak!

Suomi 100

Suomi 100

November 2017 books

November 2017 books