What does PS membership in the European Conservatives and Reformists group reveal about the Finnish populist party?

by , under Enrique Tessieri

One of the matters that one notices about the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* party is how it has metamorphosed and continues to do so. Even so, its stand on our social welfare state isn’t clear never mind what it thinks about EU membership, even if its leader, Timo Soini, now says that the party wants Finland to continue being a member of the EU. The party’s entry into the Europe of Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) is highly revealing, since it reinforces what we’ve known a long time about the PS. 

One matter it reveals is that the PS is an opportunistic party that doesn’t really have a clear stand on anything except that it polarizes instead of unites, speaks and stresses “us” and “them” in its rhetoric. Deep inside its reason for being hinges on anti-EU, anti-immigration, homophobic and especially anti-Islam stands.

Näyttökuva 2014-6-5 kello 10.39.08
Read full story (in Finnish) here.

A way to understand the PS stand on many issues is to check what the ECR stands for. Below are some of the principles that the European parliamentary group supports, according to Wikipedia:

  • Free enterprise, free and fair trade and competition, minimal regulation, lower taxation, and small government as the ultimate catalysts for individual freedom and personal and national prosperity.
  • Freedom of the individual, more personal responsibility and greater democratic accountability.
  • Sustainable, clean energy supply with an emphasis on energy security.
  • The importance of the family as the bedrock of society.
  • The sovereign integrity of the nation state, opposition to EU federalism and a renewed respect for true subsidiarity.
  • The overriding value of the transatlantic security relationship in a revitalized NATO, and support for young democracies across Europe.
  • Effectively controlled immigration and an end to abuse of asylum procedures
  • Efficient and modern public services and sensitivity to the needs of both rural and urban communities.
  • An end to waste and excessive bureaucracy and a commitment to greater transparency and probity in the EU institutions and use of EU funds.
  • Respect and equitable treatment for all EU countries, new and old, large and small.

In many respects, the PS stand on many of these issues is similar to the Youth League of the National Coalition Party, which is in favor of  “streamlining” the welfare state.

The Youth League of the National Coalition Party made 150 proposals last year that, if implemented, would turn Finland into a U.S.-modeled country where money is king. Some of the proposals made by the group are racist and xenophobic and in line with the most far right representatives of the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party.

The youth wings of the PS and National Coalition Party have lobbied to demote the Swedish language to elective status in schools.

The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). 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. 

  1. intternetnetsi

    So you are opposing those?

    I know you hate finland and want make it to mere state of Euvostoliitto but its nice to know you admit it.

    And “demote swedish”…. Its more like to put it in place where it belongs. I know you have problems to understand history but i assume you may want to learn why swedish has position it has now and why its not good for finland. Learn how swedish became mandatory language (again, now just de jure instead de facto what we fought off with finnish schools what RKP opposed then and today)

    Tell to border guards on east border why its by law mandatory to speak swedish when tiny fraction of “clients” speak it and talk again about how that one irrelevant language should have position it haves now.

    • Enrique Tessieri

      Hi Hannu-internetnetsi, I haven’t been accused of the following for a long, long time: “I know you hate Finland…”

      The issue isn’t that I don’t understand history, but the fact that I understand where you are coming from. Thanks to my knowledge of history I know that behind all your arguments is one important factor: you can’t cope with cultural diversity.

      Learn and you can. Migrant Tales is an excellent place to start learning about cultural and ethnic diversity.

    • Mark

      Intternetnetsi

      Tell to border guards on east border why its by law mandatory to speak swedish when tiny fraction of “clients” speak it and talk again about how that one irrelevant language should have position it haves now.

      Well, for a start, Finland is a ‘whole’ country, and not a collection of border posts, so what is ‘irrelevant’ in one part of Finland can nevertheless be relevant in other parts. If all laws were generated on the basis of what is relevant, then Finland would have a very interesting patchwork of legislation. Imagine one municipality had the lowest number of traffic-related deaths. On the basis of your argument, they could campaign to have speeding laws completely abolished, because they are ‘not necessary’, as everyone drives safely. Why should those people in that municipality have to drive slow just because other municipality’s drivers are more dangerous?

      Clearly deciding a national language policy has to take account of the whole of Finland, and not just some parts, otherwise it is no longer a ‘national’ policy. And when Swedish is no longer dealt with as a national policy issue, it is clearly no longer a ‘national language’.

      Of course, you could go down the road of many many other countries that have sought to undermine the rights of their minority populations, both in terms of language rights. Take eastern Ukraine and Crimea, where Russian-speakers were greatly concerned at Kiev’s decision to undermine the position of the Russian language, a move which paved the way for a very effective propoganda campaign for separatism. Take Iraq, where a Shia majority have repeatedly sought to marginalise and undermine the political representation of the Sunni minorities to the point where recruiting soldiers for a separatist war has been easy for Isis.

      Your attitude to Swedish reveals you have little respect for Swedish-speakers and this alone demonstrates so clearly why Swedish-speakers need very strong legislation to maintain their political and social equality with Finnish speakers in Finland. You demonstrate one of the greatest dangers to modern democracy, the so-called ‘tyranny of the majority’, a majority who decide everything on the utility of the majority, effectively removing any nuance to public policy to deal with issues affecting small numbers of people, while also operating like a fractious unruly mob who condescend and terrorise the cultural identities of any other groups but their own.

  2. Yossie

    “One matter it reveals is that the PS is an opportunistic party that doesn’t really have a clear stand on anything”

    Not at all. As you listed yourself, ECR stands for:

    ◦The sovereign integrity of the nation state, opposition to EU federalism and a renewed respect for true subsidiarity

    ◦Effectively controlled immigration and an end to abuse of asylum procedures

    ◦An end to waste and excessive bureaucracy and a commitment to greater transparency and probity in the EU institutions and use of EU funds.

    PS has always been going for these things. They have very clear stand on these matters. Of course people like you are against them and as such want to demonize parties like PS.

    • JusticeDemon

      Yossie

      I have yet to meet anyone in the PS with the nous to even understand the term federalism. This is simply a boo word that we are not supposed to define. It somehow applies uniquely to the European Union, but not to Nordic co-operation. It is ugly when it means that European trading partners should harmonise their standards, but not when it calls for comparable standards between local authorities in various parts of Finland. For example why should road vehicle dimensions in Finnish Lapland be determined according to road traffic conditions in Helsinki?

      So go on, give us a laugh: what is YOUR definition of federalism?

      I wonder what proportion of PS voters understand that “an end to waste and excessive bureaucracy” is Thatcherite code for reducing public services to provide tax cuts for the rich? This has not exactly been a prominent aspect of PS campaigning in Finland.

      We already know that calls for “effectively controlled immigration” come from people who have no idea how immigration is controlled in practice. Do you remember all of those PS demands just before the election loudly insisting that the Aliens Act should not be changed at all, and then Soini’s quiet announcement on the eve of the election that PS supported the immigration policies of the government in office? This is populism at its worst – deliberately keeping the electorate in the dark and exploiting fear and hatred for political ends.

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