The populist anti-immigration Perussuomalaiset (PS)* held over the weekend their party congress in Turku. There were two matters that summarize the conference: the party’s hostility towards migrants and the media.
For those who still believe the PS is not a hostile party to migrants and the media have to read Foreign Minister and party chairman Timo Soini’s and MEP Jussi Halla-aho’s speech.
In the typical populist anti-immigration spirit and tradition, Soini and Halla-aho blamed migrants for their inability to create jobs and kick-start Finland’s economy. Naturally the media is involved in the conspiracy with migrants and the red-green alliance.
If the words of these two politicians are to be believed, Finland’s problems will melt away when you gag the media, slam the door to the red-green anti-racism activists and tighten further our already tight immigration policy.
Criticizing journalists for doing their jobs in covering the PS MP Olli Immonen scandal, Soini and Halla-aho is a direct attack against our democracy.
Halla-aho, who has been sentenced for ethnic agitation, went even further by placing editorialists, columnists and generally the national media in the same league as far-right and far-left extremists. He said that there are two types of people in today’s Finland: those “who believe in democracy and those who think they are above it.”
Taking into account the rise of the PS and with it the rise of racism and far right voices, this is Finland’s second-largest government party that criticizes the national media for not seeing the world as the PS, which is populistic, racist and nationalistic.
Social Democrat MEP Liisa Jakonsaari writes in a blog that both Soini’s and Halla-aho’s rhetoric is no different from far right parties like France’s Front National.
“Extremist partes [in Europe] state in their speeches that they are against violence and hate speech but do not condemn racism and nationalism, because racism and nationalism helps increase support for them,” writes Jakonsaari.
Migrant Tales totally agrees with Jakonsaari.
We too have been asking for a long time the million-euro question about the PS: Why doesn’t the party sack those members like Immonen who are openly racist?
The answer shouldn’t surprise us: Racism and nationalism give the PS its political strength. How do you think they rose from near-obscurity to become Finland’s second-largest party in parliament?
The problem that some analysts and the media have is that they give Soini the benefit of the doubt. This view, which takes credibility from the media, is what we call the good-cop-bad-cop PS syndrome.
As long as the media sees Soini as a “good cop,” or that he had nothing to do with giving far right Islamophobes, fascists and ultranationationalists a voice, the PS will continue to grow and entrench itself.
By painting a “normal” picture of a party that mocks at our democracy, press freedom and victimizes migrants and minorities, we place in harm’s way Nordic values.
* The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English names of the party adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We therefore prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings.