Finland has retained its 15th spot in the 2019 Soft Power 30, providing a stable middle point for the index this year. The country continues to cultivate an international reputation for stability, freedom, public safety, and social progress; Finland was second only to Norway in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index. The election of the first centre-left Prime Minister in Finland in 20 years and the most gender-equal cabinet in the European Union have contributed to Finland’s continued strengths in the Government sub-index, and will improve its performance in the Engagement sub-index. Despite a change in government, Finland topped the 2019 World Happiness Report, as it had in 2018, continuing the stability that so characterises it. President Niinistö has continued to successfully balance Finnish foreign policy between the EU and the West, and its global profile has been significantly lifted by the country’s strong leadership on climate change.
Despite slipping one place, Government remains Finland’s strongest asset, bolstered this year by the country’s hosting of EU Council presidency between July and December 2019 and global leadership on climate change issues. The election of a centre-left government in the June 2019 elections will help ensure that Finland remains in a high position in this sub-index, overcoming a strong populist movement.
Finland is blessed with a strong national identity and powerful global recognition as part of the Nordic grouping of countries but struggles to communicate this alongside its soft power assets. A dip in the Digital sub-index suggests that the government needs to leverage the interest in the country following its EU Council presidency to drive improvement in this area.
As we recommended last year, Finland’s strong national identity and recognition as a grouping are significant soft power assets. To move further up the rankings, Finland should build on the momentum created by its EU Council presidency and focus on communicating the specific characteristics that make it different.