A short 1st of May update from Finland

by Mika Rönkkö

To start with, take a look at Teuvo Hakkarainen´s First day in parliament so you get an idea:

Well, the True Finns will chair key Parliamentary committees in the parliament: the Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Administrative committees. This means that in addition to foreign affairs and defence, the party will have a key position in the processing of legislation affecting the police, municipalities, and immigration issues.

The Administrative Committee is to be chaired by outspoken immigration critic Jussi Halla-aho. Helsinki District Court has fined Halla-aho for violating the sanctity of religion (charges of incitement against an ethnic group were dismissed by the court.). Halla-aho has associated Islam with paedophilia in his blog writings. He also wrote for example that robbing passers-by and scrounging on taxpayers’ money might be a national or even a genetic characteristic of a certain people, that “individuals can justifiably be placed in a hierarchy of values according to how the removal of their abilities or skills from the use of the community would weaken the community” and that the notion of equal human worth is a typical proclamation of this age, similar to the notion from previous centuries that the sun orbits the earth, or the doctrine of Papal infallibility, that women have no souls, or that masturbation causes short-sightedness.

The True Finns might even enter the next government, with the National Coalition Party (conservative/liberal) and the Social Democrats, and are seeking similar ministerial posts as in the Parliament commissions.

To be fair, True Finns (39 seats of 200 MPs) are a very diverse crowd, a strange composition of populists, with a considerable part belonging more to the left populists than right, especially on economic policies (this might effect Portugal bailout issues in EU). Most of the True Finns are not as clearly racist as the Swedish Democrats, Danish Peoples Party or the Progress Party in Norway, though they are definitely supporters of a revival of conservative values. Less than a third of them could be associated with the reactionary xenophobic right, calling for stricter controls on immigration, whose main ideologue is the above-mentioned Jussi Halla-aho (A Slavic linguist, his dissertation was on historical nominal morphology of Old Church Slavonic). A Considerable part of the True Finns comprises followers of the Finnish Rural Party, which is seen as the predecessor of the True Finns.  The Finnish Rural Party was a traditional rural populist party advancing a social justice agenda against elites. MEP Timo Soini, a charismatic chair-person and the absolute leader of the True Finns, the only force keeping the party together, is a former Finnish Rural Party political secretary.

Lastly, one has to keep in mind, that in these Parliamentary elections the Left did very well in Helsinki (doubled seats), and is radically changing and growing fast. Left alliance chair Paavo Arhinmäki had most votes in Helsinki district and did clearly beat Jussi Hallo-aho. Nationally the Left alliance lost seats but did not do so badly as expected and got 8.3 % of the votes. The Greens lost nastily (they lost 5 seats, and got 7.2% of votes), certainly due to their neoliberal policies in the government. The Social democrats also lost less than expected, with 19.1% of votes.

In conclusion, (and this has not been recognized by the international media about the Finnish elections), it were the government parties which were the major losers (central and coalition parties + greens). The Real Finns landslide victory is mostly a protest against government (and EU) neoliberal policies – unfortunately, we will now witness very nasty collateral effects in the form of Halla-aho xenophobic crowd.

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