Finnish municipal elections analysis: Anti-immigration and us-vs-them politics aren’t sustainable

by , under Enrique Tessieri

One of the most important lessons of Sunday’s municipal elections is that the right-wing populist Perussuomalaiset (PS)*, and especially its conservative anti-immigration message and wing, are the biggest losers. 

Since the party’s historic election victory of 2011, when it gained 39 seats in parliament from 5 previously, migrants, minorities and our ever-growing culturally diverse community has been the target of a hostile campaign by the PS.

Ever since the PS’ election victory of 2011, the right-wing populist party has made migrants and asylum seekers their favorite political target. Of all the Finnish parties, the PS are the only ones that have openly tried to capitalize on anti-immigration sentiment.

While the National Coalition Party won its third-straight municipal elections on Sunday with 20.7% of the vote, it was followed by the Social Democrats (19.4%), Center Party (17.5%), Greens (12.4%) and Left Alliance and the PS, which gained 8.8% apiece.

If the Greens made the biggest gains and the PS was the biggest losers, the Social Democrats were clearly a disappointment. Being in the opposition, their result was near-flat from the previous municipal elections of 2012.



With 100% of the votes counted, KOK (National Coalition Party) won and was followed by the SDP (Social Democratic Party), KESK (Center Party), VIHR (Green Party), VAS (Left Alliance), PS (Perussuomalaiset), RKP (Swedish People’s Party), KD (Christian Democrats) and MUUT (Others). Source: Helsingin Sanomat.

In many respects, the disastrous election result of the PS has come as sweet and long overdue payback for that party’s hostile and near-constant attacks against us. Outgoing PS chairman, Timo Soini, who has led their party since 1997, has played good cop, bad cop with the media.

Soini is the so-called “good cop” trying to convince us that he’s not a racist while the “bad cops” are those PS members who use ethnic hatred to promote their political careers.

If there is one wing of the PS that suffered a hammer blow in these elections it is it’s anti-immigration wing, which appears to have reached the end of its political road in Finland. This is significant considering that the party’s anti-immigration, and especially Islamophobic wing, was one factor that helped turn the PS into one of Finland’s largest parties.

Just like in 2011 the rise of the PS was seen with shock by Europe, Sunday’s result should be seen as a warning to other similar parties in Europe like the Front National, Ukip, Danish People’s Party, Sweden Democrats and others.

Forging a political path with anti-immigration and conservative-nationalist rhetoric may work for a while but it isn’t sustainable politically in the long run.

Add to this the fact that Soini opportunistically used the party’s anti-immigrant and anti-cultural diversity wing for his own political purposes, we can see another aspect emerge: Those very forces that the PS chairman unleashed in order to rise to prominence have turned against him like in the classic Frankenstein movie, when the monster takes his creator’s life.

He is Dr. Frankenstein and his racist wing of the PS, Frankenstein.

UPDATED AT 1.22pm: Did Donald Trump scare off voters in Finland too like in Holland? Many PS voters like Soini openly hailed Trump as the new president of the United States.

Trump is proving to be best populist and far-right repellent against Europe’s dark political forces like Marine Le Pen of France and Ukip’s Nigel Farage.

The official translation to Finnish of the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party is the Finns Party. In our opinion, it is not only a horrible translation, but one that is misguided. A direct translation of Perussuomalaiset in English would be something like “basic” or “fundamental Finn.” Such terms like the Finns Party of True Finns promote as well in our opinion nativist nationalism and racism. We, therefore, at Migrant Tales prefer to use in our postings the Finnish name of the party once and thereafter the acronym PS.