By Enrique Tessieri
It seems incredible that a populist, anti-immigration and anti-EU party can appeal to some Finns. Apart from not having any workable model for the demographic and economic challenges facing Finland, what is unacceptable of the True Finns is the party’s wholesale blacklisting of immigrants to drive home their populist agenda.
A recent example of how some True Finns fuel anti-immigrant sentiment was reported by Helsingin Sanomat. A True Finns’ candidate had placed a sign at a construction site in Helsinki claiming that a mosque would be built.
Even though these types of pranks in Helsinki reveal the opportunism of the candidate to get votes, it is surprising that nobody in the True Finns’ leadership condemns these types of shenanigans.
While the True Finns may think they are in an envious position due to their rising popularity in the polls, the big challenge that it faces is how to turn its popularity into votes and new MPs. This will be easier said than done.
Some have for good reason pictured the True Finns as a volatile bubble ready to burst at any moment. Will its bubble pop after a disappointing election or after it is clear that the party cannot deliver on its empty promises?
Immigrants are not worried about the True Finns per say. What annoys some is the negative message, xenophobic rhetoric and flagrant political opportunism: It’s ok to bash freely hard-working immigrants in Finland since it translates into votes.
The only way to deal with populism and xenophobia is to challenge it head on. The big three parties in Finland, Kokoomus, Social Democrats and the Center, have learned the hard way that silence is the most ineffectual way of combating the rise of xenophobia and racism in Finland.
True Finns: enough is enough.