By Enrique Tessieri
It is sad to think that a populist party like the True Finns may be set to win a lot of seats in the April 17 election. While everyone has a right to his opinion in Finland, pushing myths and flimsy arguments that incite nationalist sentiment at the cost of immigrants and minorities is simply unacceptable.
If the True Finns get under 20 seats in the next election it will be an upset for Timo Soini’s party. Anything above that could be seen as a victory.
It is unfortunate but Finland has been gripped by poll hysteria. Even before the first vote has been cast, some are already predicting a “huge” victory for the True Finns.
I personally believe that the True Finns are a bubble that will end up exploding after the anti-immigration wing led by Jussi Halla-aho and former SMP members like Soini clash.
Finland has not done well with far-right parties in the past. When we aligned ourselves as a co-belligerent (the official term) with Nazi Germany we ended up paying a huge price. Finland’s forte has been smart diplomacy and keeping a cool head in global and domestic affairs.
Ratcheting up the rhetoric of minorities and the outside world for short-term domestic consumption is a perilous mistake especially for a country like Finland to make.
One sign that the True Finns are not ready to lead this country is their manifest arrogance. Every time the polls have shown their popularity rise so has their contemptuousness. Some of them think they now have a carte blanche to push their views based on prejudice and ostracize those they consider different.
Some of the major parties like Kokoomus, Social Democrats and the Center Party have awoken to the True Finns menace. They are paying a big political price for not reacting earlier to this threat. But as the saying goes, better late than never.
The jury is still out on how the True Finns will do. A big election victory for the party would mean a big setback for Finland’s image abroad and to our values as a society. We will exchange our image of a country that has championed for social justice for one that has succumbed, like Denmark, to overt racism, far-right nationalism, populism and religious fundamentalism.
Jumping on the far-right bandwagon will only hurt Finland because that path will be lined with lost opportunities.