While some are still scratching their heads about the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* joining the European parliament’s European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group this week, it shows why so many voters have become estranged from politics.
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Before the historic 2011 parliamentary elections for the PS, when 39 of its MPs got elected from 5MPs previously, the party had a solid anti-EU, anti-immigration, homophobic and especially anti-Islam message.
It’s party leader, Timo Soini, watered down the PS’ stand on Europe recently by stating that he’s now against Finland leaving the EU. While its anti-immigration and anti-Islam rhetoric are still strong and lurking in the sidelines patiently waiting to stir voter emotions, its most outspoken enemies these days are homosexuals and gay marriage.
Hoping to become the biggest party in Finland after next year’s parliamentary elections, the PS has, however, tried to give a more moderate and mainstream image of itself. This is understandable considering that it wants to be a member of the next government and the disappointing showing of the party in the presidential, municipal and euro elections.
In all three elections, the PS hasn’t come even close to its 19.1% showing of 2011.
But after criticizing and riding the wave of voter discontent and mistrust of mainstream parties, the PS is trying to look more like them. Is this a good matter or is it another trick by the party to lure voters?
While at Migrant Tales we have spoken out repeatedly against the PS’ racism, provincialism and nativist nationalism, what is happening inside the party resembles the pigs in George Orwell’s Animal Farm.
The last paragraph of Orwell’s book says it all with respect to the revolution at Manor Farm and what the PS did in 2011:
Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.
Green Party politician Ozan Yanar asks a very valid question on his Facebook page. He states with evident dismay that here’s the “labor party without socialism” that has joined David Cameron’s conservatives in the European parliament. The absurdity of the situation is further highlighted by the fact that AKP, the political moderate voice of Islam in Turkey, joined the ECR [through the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists], according to him.
Moreover, the ECR is in favor of Turkey’s membership in the EU. PS MEP Jussi Halla-aho, who has declared war on Islam in the same way as the worst Islamophobes in Europe, is now a member of a political group that approves Turkey’s membership in the EU.
In anyone’s book a criminal record isn’t a good matter to have in your records. Even so, and in the conservative spirit, where social and economic inequality are acceptable because people aren’t equal, the membership of the PS and Danish People’s Party in the ECR proves that it’s politically worse getting arrested for shoplifting than ethnic agitation.
UK Prime Minister Cameron, the leader of the ECR, isn’t too bothered by racism and prejudice since it was his government that launched the “Go Home” campaign against undocumented immigrants and spread fear to Britons that the country will be overrun by swarms of Romanians and Bulgarians on January 1.
Cameron has been playing political catchup with dismal luck against his rival Nigel Farage of the UKIP. If the UK prime minister would have taken the time to see what happened in Finland when mainstream political parties started to flirt with the anti-immigration message of the PS before the 2011 elections, he would have learned an important lesson: Don’t try to compete against xenophobic parties because you give legitimacy to them.
While the PS’ leader Timo Soini wants to show that his party is “normal” and “mainstream” these days, we should never forget what the party said and did to get where it is today.
In that message and in their actions is concentrated the poison that has estranged so many Europeans from politics.
* The English name of the Perussuomalaiset (PS) is officially the Finns Party. The names 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.