I am a Finnish social scientist currently living in the Southside of Glasgow. I came to work as a visiting scholar in the University of Strathclyde in March 2013. My plan was to stay for only six months, but since then my invitation has been extended until the autumn of 2016. For a person like me, who enjoys running, hiking and socialising, the friendly and green city of Glasgow is a pretty perfect place to live.
During the past ten years I have researched Finnish elections, and I do consider myself an election fan. This is a fortunate and exciting time to live in Scotland, with the independence referendum just around the corner and the parliamentary elections coming up in 2015.
Public discussion around the referendum has given me an insight into Scottish society. People’s hopes and dreams, as well as their fears and prejudices, have become more visible. It is interesting for me that the Nordic countries, including Finland, are often referred to as various types of ideal society. It is true that in Finland the gap between the rich and poor is much smaller than in the UK.
There are many Finns living in Scotland, and the fact that we are also entitled to vote in the independence referendum has animated discussion between us. I was surprised that a person like me, who has just recently moved into the country, can vote in an election of this importance.
I have not made up my mind yet, but I do have sympathy for those who wish Scotland to become a more equal society. Given the country’s left-leaning voter base, independence might be one step towards this target.