The result of Sunday’s municipal elections were especially good news for migrants and minorities, who have been the targets of the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* especially after their parliamentary election victory of 2011, when the party won 39 seats (19.05%) from 5 MPs (4.05%) in the previous elections.
Ever since that historic election win by the PS in 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 with 20.6% of the vote, it was followed by the Social Democrats (19.4%), Center Party (17.7%), Greens (12.3%) and Left Alliance and the PS, which gained 8.8% apiece.
If the Greens made the biggest gains and the PS the biggest losers, the Social Democrats were a disappointment. Being in the opposition, their result was near-flat from the previous municipal elections of 2012.
With 95.1% of the votes counted, KOK (National Coalition Party) leads followed by 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: YLE.
This is why some analysts believed that the terrorist attack in Stockholm on Friday and news that a bomb was found on Saturday night in the Norwegian capital of Oslo could have helped the PS in today’s election.
Considering that Timo Soini, who has led the PS since 1997 and will step down as chairman in early June, the populist anti-immigration party is sailing in uncharted waters. The two favorites candidates vying for Soini’s job, MP Sampo Terho and MEP Jussi Halla-aho, will have a difficult time filling the outgoing chairman’s shoes.
The rise and apparent fall of the PS is a good case in point of what populist anti-immigration parties that base their campaigns on nationalism and anti-immigration themes can face in other European countries. They may attract voters while in the opposition but it’s a total different story for how long they can keep voters’ attention with their rhetoric if they ever get power.
Anti-immigration and anti-EU rhetoric had a short future in Finland. One matter is for certain: it didn’t create in jobs and fuel economic growth. At worst, it creates a terrible atmosphere that fuels and encourages hate speech and hate crime against migrants and minorities.
* 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.