Could you explain to our readers when you decided to become a politician?
I became interested in politics or should I say became interested in social issues when I was teenager and gradually I grew into politics. I also had political ideals and models such as Mr Juha Rihtniemi, the former chairman of the National Coalition Party. I was actively involved at the National Coalition Youth Association. Later I wanted to lobby on women’s right and our status.

I have to say that I step by step grew up into politics. I started my career as a politician in municipal elections and then in 1983 I was elected in the general elections to the Finnish Parliament.

Did you have strong political beliefs during your youth?
I have always believed in independent initiative and entrepreneurship. I believe that with your own work you have an impact on others wellbeing. I come from an entrepreneur family so I have a great faith in people and how they with their own work can improve others life.

Was the choice of becoming a “full time politician” difficult to make?
It was not difficult to me but it was no easy matter for my husband if he is nowadays my momentous backer.

How could you present the National Coalition Party to our readers who don’t know it?
National Coalition Party or Kokoomus as we Finns know it is a true ideological party which have a lot to answer for. First of all National Coalition Party is a civilised party. In market economy system one should not forget humanity whilst moving ahead with the plans. Our party sets great store by environmental matters and durable development. National Coalition Party also wants to maintain affluent society and our national identity. I would say that throughout its history, three ideological emphases have co-existed within the party, those of social reformism, conservatism and liberalism. To this day, varying conservative ideological tendencies exist side by side in the National Coalition Party.

Has the National Coalition Party always been present in the Finnish political life?
Yes even our party was 21 years in opposition and finally in 1987 became a government party. The National Coalition Party was founded 1918 at a time when Finland’s former party division had grown outdated as a result of the independence achieved by the nation in 1917. The guiding idea behind the establishment of the party was the achievement of national unity through the promotion of social justice, among other things. Among the Prime Ministers who have come from the National Coalition Party are Mr P.E. Svinhufvud, Mr Edvin Linkomies, Mr J.K. Paasikivi and Mr Harri Holkeri.

If you had to describe this party with 5 words…
Knowledge, know-how, humanity and responsibility.

What are the positive and negative aspects of being a politician?
As politician one can contribute to the development of society and by exploiting networks one is able to have large influence over things. Negative aspect is that you are round the clock in the public eye. It is very difficult to have privacy and private life. And as a woman and a mother and a wife I have to say that sometimes it is very difficult to balance with domesticity and working life and run to time.

Do you consider it as a profession or is it more than that?
Unquestionably it is much more than that. It enriches your life!

When you became Minister of Culture, did you have the feeling that it was the achievement of something?
I think that it was achievement. It is because I think that I am able to make the most of myself. I mean, you are able to use your knowledge and know-how, pick your brains and you can pull strings. After all minister is a man of substance.

If you had the possibility to totally change your profession. What would you choose?
I would be an enterpriser, self-employed person.

Why do you think that in Europe people become less and less interested in politics?
Yes. I think the reason for this is that politics is too much as power game. The real issues at grass roots, the ordinary matters in everyday life are buried or trampled underfoot by power struggle. Holding or building court is more important to some politicians.

How do you explain the results of Mister Tony Halme during the last Parliamentary elections? Do you think that he was elected for his ideas or for other reasons?
As far as I can see, it is not difficult to be populist.

What are your professional or personal projects for the future?
I was re-elected in the general elections into the Finnish Parliament and I was elected as a chairperson for one of the special committees, the Committee for Education and Culture. I was chairperson for that committee also earlier in 1999 – 2002. So I cannot say that I turn over a new leaf. Life goes on and that makes life worth living.

One of my personal projects is that, well and truly, upcoming summer I am once again going to Italy with my husband.