Governance: Snakes & Ladders

Sanna Marin, Prime Minister of Finland (on the left) & Kaja Kallas, Prime Minister of Estonia (on the right). Two of the best world leaders, representing two of the best, and most rapidly improving, systems of governance.

Over time some countries become better governed, and some worse. I would argue that the state of British Democracy has been declining, certainly since the Thatcherite revolution of 1979, but increasingly so since the 2016 Brexit referendum. (Jonathan Freedland traces the increasingly delusional nature of British politics since the 2016 Brexit Referendum and this 10 minute video of George Monbiot skewering neoliberalism is well worth watching.)

Meanwhile in some other countries democracy, life expectancy, prosperity, education, health service provision and environmental protection all improve. Over the last century and a half Finland has transformed itself from poor and unequal to prosperous and equal. Since shaking off Soviet shackles in 1991 Estonia has made extraordinary strides forward, with rapid improvements to life expectancy, the economy, society and democracy.

While Boris Johnson and Liz Truss are personifications of corrupt and failing neoliberal ideologies, Kaja Kallas, the Estonian Prime Minister, and Sanna Marin, the Prime Minister of Finland, embody good governance. They have both been strong in their support for Ukraine. Domestically they are leading on all manner of good, socially inclusive and ecologically literate policies. Just one example is how Estonia is dealing with the energy crisis: they had a goal of 40% renewably generated electricity by 2030, and have just ramped up their target to 100% by 2030.

Finland, and to a lesser extent Estonia, provide a model of governance that I seek to extrapolate from in my book ‘System Change Now!’ and use as a template for highly decentralized global governance.

We in the UK are desperately in need of a general election and a new government. I would love to see that new government led by Caroline Lucas. Keir Starmer is not exactly inspiring or full of great ideas, but he would certainly be an improvement on Liz Truss. The UK needs to step back from decades of neoliberal chaos and the delusional nonsense of Brexit. I would love us to rejoin the EU and adopt more Finnish systems of governance. We have decades of damage to undo!

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