The first stage of the UK’s protracted departure from the European Union has now been completed, opening up 27 seats in the European Parliament that will be occupied by new MEPs from 14 member states.
One of them is Green politician Alviina Alametsä, a first-term councillor on the Helsinki city council and likely unknown to many. The Greens’ strong performance in last year’s Europarliament election helped position her for her new role as Finland’s only candidate to snap up one of the seats vacated by the UK.
Alametsä turns 28 years old this year. She said that she doesn’t consider her youth a particularly important issue but noted that it may offer interesting possibilities.
"I have thought about creating a YouTube channel, for example, to reach a different generation and to explain things via video," she declared, adding that there’s another reason for the intention.
"Finnish YouTube politics is currently dominated by one party. The Finns Party has a fairly good presence there, so the image of the EU could be rather one-sided if only a certain voice is [represented] there," Alametsä pointed out.
From Vuosaari to Brussels by boat and train
The rookie politician said that her channel would deal with climate and human rights issues via discussions with various experts. She said that she has already been receiving messages and ideas on Instagram that might otherwise have been overlooked.
"I ask [people] a lot on IG what they would like to improve based on different themes. It isn’t always easy to hear the voice of young people in particular, since the mechanism for [council] motions is still so rigid," she noted.
International interest in Finland has been rekindled since Prime Minister Sanna Marin took over from Antti Rinne to lead a coalition government comprising senior figures from the five parties who are all young women.
Alametsä is also much younger that many of her MEP colleagues. The average Europarliamentarian is about 55 years old. Even among Finnish MEPs, the youngest are the Finns Party’s Laura Huhtasaari (40), Silvia Modig of the Left Alliance (43) and the Greens’ Ville Niinistö (also 43).
Alametsä, who lives in eastern Helsinki’s Vuosaari district, said that she plans to travel to Brussels by first taking a ferry to Germany and then continuing her journey by train. The boat trip takes nearly 30 hours, while the rail portion will add another eight hours of travel time.
You can listen to our All Points North podcast on the rupture that is Brexit and its implications for people moving between Finland and the UK via this embedded player, as well as on Yle Areena, Spotify and iTunes or via your normal pod player using the RSS feed.