Matters appear to have changed after the April 2011 election, when the Perussuomalaiset (PS) rose from relative obscurity to become the third-largest party in parliament. The well-known scandals and publicized vicious attacks by the racists of the PS against immigrants and visible minorities appear to have changed their tune.
Apart from the row that former PS MP James Hirvisaari caused when he took a picture of a man making a Nazi salute in parliament, we haven’t heard or read recently about any racist outbursts in Teuvo Hakkarainen’s crude style.
Muutos 2011 MP Hirvisaari believes that the PS is becoming a more mainstream party by abandoning its openly racist and hostile views of immigrants and visible minorities.
In his fourth blog entry as a Muutos 2011 MP, Hirvisaari writes that “the party is shaping into an odorles, tastless and colorless mass.” He warns that “the collapse of the party is imminent” and support will “fall to under 10%” if the PS’ anti-immigration stance is brushed under the rug for fear of being labelled racist.
While the next parliamentary elections will take place two years from now, a lot can happen during that time on the political front. PS chairman Timo Soini’s gamble to apparently weed out loose canons like Hirvisaari from the party and keep other ones like Hakkarainen quiet, it’s pretty clear that the PS is putting its convoluted house in order so it can form part of the country’s next government after the 2015 elections.
Even if the PS wants to look more mainstream, can MPs like Jussi Halla-aho, Juho Eerola, Olli Immonen and others take on a new image? Certainly they can but can a leopard change its spots? What will the voters think? Didn’t they vote for 39 MPs in 2011 because they weren’t mainstream and because they were openly hostile to immigrants, Muslims and the EU?
There’s an important question that Soini dreads the answer: Would the PS commit political hara-kiri if it forced its racists and hardline nationalists to chill out?
An story in The Guardian shows how far-right parties are constantly changing and reinventing their image to appeal to mainstream voters:
This is exactly the modus operandi of such factions. From the British Union of Fascists to the British People’s party, the Action party, the National Front, the Flag Group, the New National Front, the BNP and the EDL, the far-right throbs and expands, blooms, then folds into itself and subdivides like an amorphous but sentient blob from a 1950s B movie.
A good example of the new image that the PS wants to sell to voters is PS Helsinki substitute councilwoman, Belle Selene Xian. She is the exact creation that the PS wants to sell to voters: she’s Chinese but white and who says all the right sweet things that win over some but makes her obnoxious to others.
The PS is like an ogre that is trying to learn how to speak and learn new ways, wearing a three-piece suit and tie tie trying to say all the right things without saying anything.