By Enrique Tessieri
In light of the recent scandal that has rocked the Perussuomalaiset (PS), party chairman Timo Soini now promises to banish “racist” candidates from taking part in the municipal election of October 28, according to Helsingin Sanomat, citing Swedish-language daily HBL. Can we and should we believe Soini’s latest promise?
The answer to that question is on a TV news interview on Nelonen right after the April election and what he said during a presidential debate in December, according to MTV3. On Nelonen Soini assures us that there “isn’t one racist” in the PS but then on MTV3 he admits that there are at the most “one, two or three” cases.
Racism poses the biggest threat to Soini’s plans to build a credible party. But renouncing racism is easier said than done. It is like like asking the Communist Party to renounce Karl Marx and substitute him for Adam Smith.
How do Soini and the PS define “racist?” This is unclear even if much of their energy in the past months has gone into denying racism as a wider problem in the PS and Finland.
When trying to make sense of what a right-wing populist party like the PS is really saying, you have to venture behind the meaning of the soundbites. What does Soini mean when he announces plans to ban racists from running in the municipal election of October?
He is telling us that the PS is worried about how racism is deflating credibility from the party. This is a good piece of news because, if you recall, racism, anti-immigration and anti-Islam were factors that helped the PS from becoming Finland’s third-largest party in April.
Do I believe Soini is serious about tackling a social ill like racism in the PS and Finland?
Do you believe in political fairy tales? No I don’t.
His party is a part of the problem.