This last week saw round one of our presidential elections and a bit of an upset. Round two candidates are Pekka Haavisto (Greens) and Sauli Niinistö (National Coalition Party). I previously wrote about the candidates here. Currently support is running 60 +% for Sauli, 30+ % for Pekka. One more week to go before round two. True that Pekka is a long way behind. This next week will be very interesting indeed. In my opinion, his gay status is less of a hindrance than his green credentials.
This week we also celebrated Australia Day. 26th January. Well some people, not me, maybe a little. I put Australian flags on my Skype status, and posted a long ‘what it means to be Australian’ status on Facebook, along with a link about the meaning of the word mate. The Beader had this to say and Theasaurus Vol. 82 wrote about the Tent Embassy. When I lived in Australia it was, for many years, just another work day. First on the family farm and our road-side shop, it was generally the busiest day of the summer. In later years at numerous pubs and hotels, it was the busiest day of the summer 🙂 One of my FB buddies asked what I was doing to celebrate, and while I’m proud to be Australian, it’s not something that I feel is relevant in Finland. In the middle of winter. A flag waving, ‘oi oi oi’ chanting Aussie I am not!
I consider myself extremely lucky. The country of my birth lets me keep my citizenship, even when I take the citizenship of the country I now live in. Not every country is so accepting (or flexible? forgiving?). Girlfriend S is German, and lived in Australia for more years than I have fingers. Yet, she daren’t take Australian citizenship, despite being more than qualified. If she does that, then she will need to forgo her German citizenship. Now I’m sure some of you will say, well yes, that’s only right. Why should you be able to be citizens of two countries? You can only live in one place at a time… If this is at all possible, it’s much more complicated than that, and simpler at the same time.
Finland is a republic, our president is elected by popular vote. Voting is not compulsory. For round one of this years presidential election voting rate was 72.8%. No matter where in the world you live, your voting rights as a citizen remain unchanged. The Engineer has voted from Sri Lanka, E who is living temporarily in Australia for 6 months voted from Brisbane. No matter how long you live away from Finland your rights as a citizen remain unchanged. A lived in South Australia for at least 10 years and voted in the Finnish elections while she was there.
Australia is a constitutional monarchy, and the Monarch (presently Queen Elizabeth II) of England is our head of state. She is represented by the Governor General. Overseas voting rights last 5 years. The procedure to vote when you are overseas is bureaucratic, time-consuming and quite frankly cumbersome. The electoral roll managed to keep me on the roll for an additional 4 years. Unbelievably they had my residential address as the last address I lived at in Australia and my postal address as Finland. Subsequently after every election that I had not voted in, I would receive fine notices in the mail. For not voting in an election that by their own rules I was not eligible to vote in! So would start another round of correspondence. Finally in 2011, they took me off the roll.
Getting my Finnish citizenship was hard work. Well, actually only the last part when I had to sit the language test. Up until then it was easy. All I had to do was live here (oh and learn Finnish 😎 ). Our three person family holds 5 passports between us. Mr. 12 received his Finnish citizenship by decree a few years ago. He probably should have got it from birth, however we were given some conflicting advice just after he was born. We’ve looked at getting Australian citizenship for The Engineer, seeing as we aren’t seriously considering moving there for a few years it’s not something that is high on the list of things to do.
There are some that say Australia is the lucky country. I’m very lucky to have two countries to call my own 🙂