By Enrique Tessieri
While True Finns’ chairman Timo Soini tries to calm Finns and the outside world that “we’re not extremists, so you can sleep safely,” an eerie lull prevails over Finland as talks begin on forming a coalition government with Kokoomus, Social Democrats and the True Finns. Soini’s most recent outbreak was with the Swedish media, whom he branded on MTV3 as “unbelievable.”
One of the interesting debates going on between people in Finland is figuring out a suitable adjective to describe the True Finns.
Is it a racist party, xenophobic, protest, nationalistic, euroskeptic, ultra-conservative/conservative, populist, far-right or all or none of the above? Probably the answer to that question lies in the following query: What do the True Finns support, according to their election manifesto and blog writings of some of their newly elected MPs?
Would we call the True Finns a party that has spoken out against racism in Finland? Has it championed for women’s rights and gender equality? What about its views on pollution and its relationship with the outside world and Russia? Should Finland ditch the European Monetary Union and eventually the European Union? Do they approve and encourage cultural diversity? If so how is it realized? What about same-sex marriages? What do they think about Islam?
The BBC reports: “They (True Finns) believe that a low birth rate is not solved by immigration, as that results in problems and foreigners do not fit into Finnish culture. Instead, young women should study less and spend more time giving birth to pure Finnish children. That is like a faint echo of Nazi ideology.”
If Soini disagrees with these types of descriptions of his party, he should come out and condemn forcefully those in the True Finns who preach such things indirectly or directly.
If we look at Europe’s right-wing populist parties that have grown in recent years, their popularity is based on three contentions: hostility to Brussels, immigration and Islam. In many respects, the True Finns are no different in their “critical stance” of these three matters.
Some elected True Finns like Jussi Halla-aho, a member of the far-right Suomen Sisu association, said on election eve that the election victory was attributable to its anti-immigration and anti-EU stance.
In a cat-and-mouse game trying not to reveal the true face of the party, Soini has said that only 10% of the support that the True Finns got comes from anti-immigration. Whom do you believe?
I am certain that electing a party like the True Finns will not undermine xenophobia, racism and inequality in this country because the party indirectly gives its blessing to people who support these types of social illnesses.
Thanks to the independent media in Finland and abroad we can rest assured that politicians like Soini, True Finns and other parties won’t be able to mold their own comfortable image of themselves to the public.
There is a lot of concern in Finland as well as abroad about what the rise of a populist, anti-immigration and euroskeptic party implies for our country and Europe. That is why so much has been written about the True Finns as of late.