PS of Finland: Giving racism a new respectable face

by , under All categories, Enrique

By Enrique Tessieri

A number of far right anti-immigration Perussuomalaiset (PS) party MPs have seen an image facelift after they were elected. PS MP Juho Eerola has seen the biggest transformation. 

I suspsect that after the April election, PS head Timo Soini called MPs like Eerola and told them to get a hair cut and look more respectable.

PS MP Juho Eerola before and after. Source: Eduskunta and Wikipedia.

Even PS MPs like Teuvo Hakkarainen was learning how to use a tie after he got elected. PS MP Jussi Halla-aho, the leader of the party’s anti-immigration wing, changed his Facebook profile picture. It could not, however, stop him from making controversial statements like “multiculturalism sucks ass” or that the military should overthrow the elected government in Greece.

Even James Hirvisaari, one of the eeriest of the Suomen Sisu PS MPs in parliament, got a suit and tie.

No matter how many suits these type of politicians put on they cannot hide who they are. Despite his haircut and respectable look, Eerola was incapable of condemning his aide Ulla Pyysalo for belonging to a neo-Nazi association.

One of the matters that surprised the Allies when they caught former concentration camp SS guards and commandants was how much they looked like the next-door neighbor.

The PS may want to give a legitimate face to racism and exclusion.

What does not change behind the new persona is the questionable ideology.

    • Enrique

      Hi Mark, maybe, maybe not. It’s interesting to watch who they’ve changed their images and what their messages are now.

    • Enrique

      One of the things that struck me was how they toned down their hate speech against immigrants. Certainly they spoke about it in public but in a different way. It’s as if Timo Soini told them to change the tone of their arguments since they were MPs, who could now change the laws like tighten immigration policy. No need to be provocative when you get this close to power.

      If you have one image and then change it totally is it a good thing in the long run?

  1. Jaakko

    I don’t see the point of this “news”. Usually all people are changing their dressing to more representative (excluding Veltto Virtanen), if they are getting elected. Even I started to dress differently and changed my hairstyle when I started to work. Maybe PS MPs should wear devil’s horns and sharpen their teeth to please the far left supports? 😛

  2. Mark

    Could you give me an example of one of the arguments that has been toned down? Do you think that there was a clear shift in a particular policy or just how that policy is represented? One thing I noticed from the information on the PS website is how thin the actual policy recommendations are. They are quite general statements about certain issues with no detail. I mean the ‘tighten immigration legislation’ really is quite meaningless unless you say how, or more importantly, why!

  3. Mark


    – “Maybe PS MPs should wear devil’s horns and sharpen their teeth to please the far left supports? :P”

    I hope you don’t put me in that bag, the far left!!! 🙂 You don’t have to sit on an extreme to oppose an extreme, no?

  4. Jaakko


    I’m not so familiar with your writings, so I don’t have an opinion about you and can’t label to belonging to any certain group 😉 but at least in this blog your writings are quite neutral.

    I do support that Migration Tale is telling the discrimination cases and giving productive criticism about PS (or some far right groups), but this kind of appearance “criticism” isn’t valuable. It makes feel that the person just has to write something negative about the group, if there are no other news. Nobody likes a witch-hunt, do they? Even if the group you are against is doing so, it doesn’t mean that you have to lower yourself in their level.

  5. Mark


    I see your point. It does water down the other more serious efforts to draw attention to the effects of these groups. See my first comment, too.

    I have tried very hard to break down the internal division between left and right in my own head. I’m very much convinced that there must be value in both positions for so many people to be so passionate about those political approaches, and I’m reluctant to assume that because one group has clarity in one issue that they have clarity too necessarily in other issues.

    The argument on the right is that you should give as much ‘money’ to the rich as possible because they are the productive people in society; they help to create wealth for everyone else, taken as a whole, through improved products and services. The market is believed to be self-levelling, with supply and demand accurately reflecting the accurate value of money and goods and services. But I really have my doubts that this (a simplification, I agree) taken on its own is enough to describe or worse still ‘prescribe’ an economic model. The bain of any market is a monopolgy and many exist. The other problem is that the market sometimes operates as a zero-sum game, where someone’s acquisition of wealth comes at a loss to someone else, and sometimes a non-zero sum game, where increased wealth has somehow benefited all of us.

    What the market cannot decide is what is responsible production and what is responsible consumption. My feeling is that individuals hold far more power through their consumption choices than through the balot box, but that much of the information that would make those choices useful is missing or deliberately hidden. People care about many things, but they lack opportunities to make that valueing actually benefit society, by reducting poverty, improving our use of resources etc. The most important thing in any learning system is a feedback loop. That is what is often missing in the consumer side. In the same way we have data on the nutritional value of some products, so we would benefit from information on the social and environment value (or lack thereof) of certain products.

    The other thing that has struck me from studying economics and politics is that some work benefits human beings more than other work. And this too can and is tied to the reward that people get. Talking about fairness (from the point of view of the Left) is all very well, but do we really think that someone who saves a million lives a year should be rewarded to the same extent as someone who, for example, makes our armpits smell nicer? Reward is really difficult to pin down ethically and politically for me. Clearly, if we want better health, better education, better services, then to achieve that, we must put more effort and manpower (even if it is simply to achieve better productivety) into those fields, and ultimately that would mean having more nurses and doctors and less of something else.

    An economy can function very well in terms of benefiting something all those involved in that economy and still produce something that has very little use value – such as toys, or furnishings, or cosmetics. It is very strange that all the money we spend on cosmetics every year is more than enough to feed the world’s poor. (I know, it’s never that simple to compare economies like that.)

    That is why I generally think of things in terms of responsible production and responsible consumption, as this at least sets out some limits and purpose to the market, rather than letting it fall away. But those kinds of values are not things necessarily to impose; they must rather be collectively recognised as good for all of us. Such agreement about values in the political domain has been sabotaged by the historical debate that has created a schism – between those that seek to create wealth for all, and those that seek to protect the weakest. The first group are perceived in their worse to be greedy, selfish and heartless, while the other group are perceived to be exploitable, idealistic, and controlling. The simple point is that we will never arrive at responsible consumption and production if we are busy arguing over misperceived personalities.

    Economies remind me a lot of virus systems. If the virus is too virulent (read too profitable), then it actually kills the host that feeds it. A symbiosis is achieved when the virus extracts as much resources as possible without quite killing the host.

    Blah, blah….

    You can tell it’s Friday! 🙂

  6. eyeopener

    Poo or wine?? Suit or bag!! Doesn’t matter. The same poo in a new bag. We have heard that so many times. PS have no ideas to “make their face respectable”. Because there ain’t no way to make poo taste like wine 🙂