By Enrique Tessieri
After the fanfare dies down a Herculean task awaits the True Finns after their Sunday election victory: Which direction should Finland be heading if it sits in a coalition government with Kokoomus and the Social Democrats?
One of the first biggest challenges that True Finns’ chairman Timo Soini now faces is the political inexperience of most of his 39 MPs. Such inexperience may lead to infighting, serious undercurrents and intrigue which the tabloids and media will exploit to the fullest.
True Finns parodies have already emerged. Thank you Paavo for this link (in Finnish).
Even though it is difficult to find e suitable adjective to describe Soini’s party, it is a hodge podge of far-right elements, Islamophobists, small businessmen, nationalists and even socialists.
Probably a suitable description is “protest” party. Swedish researcher Liisa Bjurwald, who published on Monday Europas skam – rasister på frammarsch (Europe’s shame – the rise of racism), sees the True Finns as an “anti-immigration right-wing populist” party.
An analyst I spoke to Monday said: “The True Finns have their work cut out for them. Their inexperienced MPs are no match for the veteran politicians of Kokoomus and Social Democratic parties. Keeping all these political currents in the party flowing in same direction will prove difficult (for Soini).”
If we look at the far-right wing of the True Finns led by Suomen Sisu members like Jussi Halla-aho, their problem will be Finland’s underwhelming immigrant and refugee population. Even if they are obsessed by Somalians, there aren’t enough of them to exploit indefinitely.
Halla-aho’s future as a politician paradoxically depends on how many Muslims and Somalians move to Finland. With the present negative climate, I doubt that many immigrants in general will want to bring their skills to this country.
Another factor that voters will be watching closely during the next four years will be if the True Finns can play ball with the other parties. As mentioned, group unity and inexperience will weigh heavily on the party.
Another factor we must keep in mind it that despite the fact that about 20% voted for the True Finns in the election, 80% voted for traditional parties. Xenophobic groups like Muutos2011 and Vapauspuolue did miserably in the election.
Time will tell as many things about the True Finns and their policies. What it may reveal at the end of the day may be very different from our present expectations and fears.