By Enrique Tessieri
An opinion poll of the presidential candidates by MTV3 revealed that Perussuomalaiset (PS) party hopeful Timo Soini, Sauli Niinistö of Kokoomus and Christian Democrat Sari Essayah did not consider the far right to be a threat to Finland.
Taking into account the Counter-Jihadist extremists in the PS led by MP Jussi Halla-aho, it’s no surprise that Soini wants to play down the threat of the far right in Finland. Niinistö’s and Essayah’s view, however, concern me because they most likely have ambivalent stances on the threat of prejudice and racism in Finland today.
Does Niinistö’s stand on the role of the far-right in Finland show us how he will tackle other social ills like racism and ever-growing poverty if elected? Possibly it suggests that he will take a totally opposite stand on such issues than his predecessor, President Tarja Halonen.
I hope I am wrong.
Those candidates who saw the far right as a clear threat to Finland are Social Democratic Party candidate Paavo Lipponen, who has been outspoken on the issue, Swedish People’s Party’s Eva Biaudet and Pekka Haavisto of the Greens.
These types of opinion polls are highly influential because those that make and publish them influence public opinion.
One definite matter lacking in the MTV3 poll is a definition of far right.
Is Suomen Sisu far right? A number of PS MPs are members of that association, which has been described by some as “Nazi-spirited.” Does far right only mean neo-Nazi association like the Suomen Kansalinen Vastarinta (SKL), of which some PS politicians are members?
Is a person “far right” when he or she wants to put our welfare state in cold storage or turn back the hands of times to the good old days (sic!) of the 1930s or 1950s? Does it mean forcefully segregating society into Finns and people with immigrant backgrounds?
If anything, the clear split in opinion of the presidential candidates on whether the far right is a threat or not reveals how polarized our society is today.
This, if anything, is what the MTV3 poll reveals.
I really have never understood this idea of extremist parties being labelled as populist, I am sure that there is some reason for it, but when they are supported by a clear minority then they are certainly not popular.
Of course, the recent rise in popularity of them is quite scary, and something that needs to be spoken about, but when there is very little main media time devoted to other more mainstream parties then of course they are going to attract attention. Maybe members of other parties should start to write and say stupid things and then they will get air time as well.
You are quite right that polls such as this, especially in an election cycle, deeply influence public opinion, but also public opinion deeply influences the answers given to the questions asked by these type of polls as well.
Would “far…..” could be defined as the lack of acceptance of the freedom of people to decide their way of living. Second element of defining should include the concept of mutual respect. In my humble opinion these two elements express the uniqueness of human being.
Everything else is clouds in the sky!!