True Finns’ Soini lashes out at the foreign media

by , under All categories, Enrique

By Enrique Tessieri

While True Finns’ chairman Timo Soini tries to calm Finns and the outside world that “we’re not extremists, so you can sleep safely,” an eerie lull prevails over Finland as talks begin on forming a coalition government with Kokoomus, Social Democrats and the True Finns. Soini’s most recent outbreak was with the Swedish media, whom he branded on MTV3 as “unbelievable.”

One of the interesting debates going on between people in Finland is figuring out a suitable adjective to describe the True Finns.

Is it a racist party, xenophobic, protest, nationalistic, euroskeptic, ultra-conservative/conservative, populist, far-right or all or none of the above? Probably the answer to that question lies in the following query: What do the True Finns support, according to their election manifesto and blog writings of some of their newly elected MPs?

Would we call the True Finns a party that has spoken out against racism in Finland? Has it championed for women’s rights and gender equality? What about its views on pollution and its relationship with the outside world and Russia? Should Finland ditch the European Monetary Union and eventually the European Union? Do they approve and encourage cultural diversity? If so how is it realized? What about same-sex marriages? What do they think about Islam?

The BBC reports: “They (True Finns) believe that a low birth rate is not solved by immigration, as that results in problems and foreigners do not fit into Finnish culture. Instead, young women should study less and spend more time giving birth to pure Finnish children. That is like a faint echo of Nazi ideology.”

If Soini disagrees with these types of descriptions of his party, he should come out and condemn forcefully those in the True Finns who preach such things indirectly or directly.

If we look at Europe’s right-wing populist parties that have grown in recent years, their popularity is based on three contentions: hostility to Brussels, immigration and Islam. In many respects, the True Finns are no different in their “critical stance” of these three matters.

Some elected True Finns like Jussi Halla-aho, a member of the far-right Suomen Sisu association, said on election eve that the election victory was attributable to its anti-immigration and anti-EU stance.

In a cat-and-mouse game trying not to reveal the true face of the party, Soini has said that only 10% of the support that the True Finns got comes from anti-immigration. Whom do you believe?

I am certain that electing a party like the True Finns will not undermine xenophobia, racism and inequality in this country because the party indirectly gives its blessing to people who support these types of social illnesses.

Thanks to the independent media in Finland and abroad we can rest assured that politicians like Soini, True Finns and other parties won’t be able to mold their own comfortable image of themselves to the public.

There is a lot of concern in Finland as well as abroad about what the rise of a populist, anti-immigration and euroskeptic party implies for our country and Europe. That is why so much has been written about the True Finns as of late.

  1. Too early to say

    You also forget that Finland in its nature since independence has always leaned to the right and in some cases very right. So its fair to say that if Sweden is a leftist country then Finland is a rightist county. I think thats where the foreign media is going wrong they are not looking at Finland its history the general views of its people before they are making a label to describe the True Finns. Of course in some countries if the True Finns stood they would be described as Far Right if you where to look at on what foundations that country is built on. But in Finland its different if you had to describe what the True Finns are then how about a Finnish progressive party. Because I think all the major political parties would in a decades time be saying what exactly the True Finns are saying now . I may be wrong but I think Kokoomus and SDP have been sitting on the fence when it comes to peoples views on what the True Finns are ,they are fully aware that as the elections was so close “Immigration” could be the issue which they could use to bargain with the True Finns ” if we support you then you support us”. This is the problem the media who are opposed to the True Finns are going to have. If a supporter of Kokoomus or SDP gets what he or she wants then I can not see that person being concerned with what the True Finns also got out of the deal. Either way to make judgments this early before we even know who the next collation government will be, is jumping the gun some what.

    • Enrique

      Hi Too early to say and thank you for dropping by Migrant Tales.

      –I think thats where the foreign media is going wrong they are not looking at Finland its history the general views of its people before they are making a label to describe the True Finns.

      What about the hundreds of thousands of Reds that emigrated to the United States during 1860-1939? It’s a bit like Cuba: all opposition leaves and, presto, none to bother with.

      Maybe describing Finland having a conservative streak is better than stating that Finland is right-wing and Sweden left-wing.

      I don’t think “opposition” to the True Finns is fair on the media. They are just doing their job and being critical.

      As you mentioned, let’s see where Finland is heading in the next four years.

  2. Jonas

    http://www.hbl.fi/text/inrikes/2011/4/21/w62361.php
    He seems to be in denial of (or more likely attempting to hide) the real views of some of his newly elected parliament members, not to mention that of some of his candidates in the election. I mean, does he not know what people like Hallo-aho and Heikki Tala think? He must be aware of their views. He seems to also think Sweden’s press don’t have the right to write what they want. Freedom of speech is clearly not a priority for Soini.

    He also says he is no enemy of Swedish-speaking Finns and then in the same article refuses to take a position on Jussi Niinistö’s statement on Nylands brigad yesterday, but does say that he could be Finland’s next defence minister. The whole party terrifies me and makes me feel ill for the future. They are also horrendously unprofessional and inexperienced. I honestly can’t see any government with Soini’s gang in it lasting the full four years.

  3. Too early to say

    I think many people who go on this blog are getting a bit carried away with the fact that within the True Finns are people with more maybe nationalist views than the majority of True Finns members. You may have a personal issue with it but it did not become a issue for the voters.All over Finland you may find examples of Finland’s history which connects with right wing view points, out side the Olympic stadium is a statue of Lauri Pihkala for example. Finland having its independence tested twice by Communism in the space of only two decades makes many Finns still see the right or far right not as enemy to Finland but as its liberator . Like it or not those political views which lean more to the right do not carry the scandal which they do in other countries (This is Finland not Sweden)..

    And if you are asking how successful the True Finns immigration polices will be. A good
    question to ask is who will be Finland’s next minster of immigration if it is someone like Ben Zyskowicz then with his views on immigration he will play ball with the True Finns

  4. Juan

    Let’s give the True Finns the finance, employment and foreign affairs portfolios! Then lets see where Finland will be in 4 years time.

    That should be enough rope for them.

  5. Klay_Immigrant

    The way the True Finns have been portrayed by liberals in the media and commentators with comparisons to Nazis and Facists you would think that given the first opportunity Timo Soini and his party would pack Somalis and any other ethnic minority into trains headed for concentration camps. And then liberals have the nerves to accuse the True Finns of scare mongering. Shameful.

  6. Too early to say

    Before the election the Finnish voters had access to all forms of media to get a idea about all candidate about their polices and views . And the Finnish voters made the choice on which polices where the most sensible and reflects todays Europe . Like I said in Finland what is seen as far right and extreme is maybe different in other countries but the Finns know the difference between sensible views on immigration and views which are work of a mindless racists. And a liberal journalist who is acting like a child by throwing a tantrum and calling the True Finns racist or xenophobic because they can not take a defeat is at the same time the insulting intelligence of the voter. which is hardly going to win friends with the True Finns voters . If theses journalists where so against the True Finns instead of mudslinging them why did they not form their own counter party at the election ? well they did not so they have no one to blame but themselves for their defeat

  7. Paavo

    I think True Finns are nationalist, euroskeptic, conservative and populist party. However, I don’t think they are racist, xenophobic or even far-right. The whole BBC report was just ridiculous! Nazis? Less education for women? Where do they get these ideas?

  8. Klay_Immigrant

    Some of the True Finns policies such as progressive taxation, a large welfare state and State support for rural regions are straight out from a left-wing politics manual so to call them far-right or extreme right just shows how misinformed some people really are.

  9. Too early to say

    In every country where the parties who stand for reductions in immigration are making gains , their political opponents wherever they being other parties or the media bring out “Nazi” ” Racist” in an attempt to discredit them in the hope that their vote will collapse and every time they have failed. Yet for some reason they still thought that tactic would work in Finland and once again it did not . What ever the True Finns are 19.1 % of the vote proves that they are neither “Racist” or Xenophobic” . What makes it worse is the BBC is known for having good a reputation for great services, it was shameful for them to reduce themselves to the level of the gutter press .

    • Enrique

      –Like I said in Finland what is seen as far right and extreme is maybe different in other countries but the Finns know the difference between sensible views on immigration and views which are work of a mindless racists.

      How come James Hirvisaari got elected to name one? This guy’s ideas are straight from the 1930s. He, like Jussi Halla-aho, are members of Suomen Sisu, a far-right association. Teemu Lahtinen, another Suomen Sisu member, loves IKL, a fascist organization that existed in the 1920s and got its inspiration from Mussolini. Lahtinen, who was a PS candidate that did not get elected, has been quoted as saying (are you ready for this?) that Finns at school should not be encouraged to marry foreignesrs. This guy is one of the children of Eugen Fischer in 2011 obsessed by things like “racial hygene.”

  10. Klay_Immigrant

    ‘Too early to say’

    Most people in Britain agree that the BBC is supposed to be impartial and neutral but in reality they are left-wing and liberal similar to the Guardian so in political stories they will always report it on that stance. Their reputation worldwide is good because of their age and history but in Britain other news channels such Sky News or ITV news are much more balanced.

  11. Too early to say

    “Most people in Britain agree that the BBC is supposed to be impartial and neutral but in reality they are left-wing and liberal similar to the Guardian”

    Like I said gutter press :

    • Enrique

      So the BBC is “gutter press?” Now I know why the PS looks like Nirvana to some.

      In my opinion, the “True Finns” is a ridiculous name. I am going to start using PS like Mark and Justice Demon. Or should we call them the “Real McCoy Finns” or Basic Finns as suggested by Jonas.

      Does anyone know what they call themselves officially in English?

  12. Too early to say

    Just heard that Timo soini said that the extra funding the True Finns will get will help him over the coming months in a statement he said :

    We spent all our money on tar, feathers and banjos and there was not enough to buy the white hoods we have always wanted so with this extra money there will not be a problem now.

    I am not joking when I say that some reader of a liberal newspapers would believe this to be true

  13. JusticeDemon

    Ricky

    I already responded on this point elsewhere. No competent translator would contest the expression “True Finns” as an English equivalent of Perussuomalaiset.

    I prefer to write PS in this blog, as I think this is a more helpful abbreviation from the perspective of foreigners in Finland. Regardless of what the organisation calls itself in English, immigrants will recognise and use PS in the same way that they overwhelmingly prefer Kela to SII.

    If any of the parties needs to rethink its name, then the most obvious candidates are RKP and Kokoomus.

  14. Too early to say

    “How come James Hirvisaari got elected to name one? This guy’s ideas are straight from the 1930s. He, like Jussi Halla-aho, are members of Suomen Sisu, a far-right association. Teemu Lahtinen, another Suomen Sisu member, loves IKL, a fascist organization that existed in the 1920s and got its inspiration from Mussolini. Lahtinen, who was a PS candidate that did not get elected, has been quoted as saying (are you ready for this?) that Finns at school should not be encouraged to marry foreignesrs. This guy is one of the children of Eugen Fischer in 2011 obsessed by things like “racial hygene.”

    Before the election you where exposing the true finns dark secrets yet no one was really interested in what you was saying .So what is the purpose of again bringing up theses quotes? if they where of little value then they surely be of less value now the vote percentage must show you this. Like i said this has been tired in other countries and failed so why you would think that Finland would be the exception to the rule ?

    And if your next plan or action is about their name, that really shows what little you have left of not much to start with anyway to try and attack them with. Bon Jovi are playing at the Olympic stadium this year I will form a protest party on the bases that they have a crap name.

    • Enrique

      Too early to say, so in you don’t have any problem with James Hirvisaari, the Nuiva gang. Suomen Sisu and the likes of Teemu Lahtinen. Ok, cool. Are all these groups and people defending this country’s values? I think many will disagree with you. If you like the far-right and IKL then that’s your issue.

  15. Tommi

    Once again PS is called Ultra conservative far-right party. What party would be moderately conservative? There isn’t any! Kokoomus is called conservative but they are not, they are just right wing. According to Helsingin sanomat (which is very sceptical towards True Finns) PS is conservative leftist party. So they are not far-right!

  16. Jonas

    What worries me is that the Basic Finns might enter government after agreeing to compromise on Portugal – perhaps they will find a solution where at least those True Finns in the government vote for it, whilst the others abstain – or a solution in which it is left to parliament to decide (where presumably Centre and the Greens would still support the Portugal package), although I suspect Katainen would except his government to be united on such a major issue. If the Basic Finns do compromise, I suspect they will want something major in return – i.e. a harder line on immigration or Swedish.

    Already, there is renewed debate in Åland’s newspapers about reunification with Sweden. I don’t think that is feasible or even desirable for Åland (and certainly not for Finland as a whole), but nonetheless, it shows a certain level of understandable despair at the prospect of people like Jussi Niinistö in government.

    • Enrique

      Isn’t it incredible how we never learn? When you start to impose your culture on others in a chauvinistic and ethnocentric fashion as some True Finns are ranting, expect problems. The more these guys try heat up the xenophobia and hatred, the more resistance they will get. As long as there are Swedish speakers, immigrants, expatriates, minorities in Finland we will be safe from people who suffer from myopia. Is challenging the Swedish language in Finland and turning this country into a Denmark the aim of some True Finns? If it is then they have lost the battle even before they’ve started their four-year terms.

  17. Mark

    Klay

    The BBC are not leftist lolol. That claim always comes out when the Tory party got some bad press about something! However, foreign affairs goes to a foreign affairs editor, and chances are, they don’t know that much about Finland, so they will defer to the journalist, providing they have a good reputation, and also look at the concensus view among other English-speaking reports about Finnish politics. As it is, they seem to have done a better job with some stories than others.

    As for leftish, far right, nationalist etc., well, it’s just hard to put any parties into strict boxes these days. Oh, and for the uneducated about extremist politics (mostly those voting for PS), you will realise that far left and far right often merge, especially in terms of state controls. Perhaps nationalist/populist are the most apt labels for PS, though any party that makes immigration a major policy platform will always get the label Far right to an extent, understandably so – why would we change political history to make life a bit easier for them in their exploitation of xenophobia?

    I think a lot of people in PS and those supporting it are not so bothered about immigration. They are not passionate, although they may get passionate when asked to defend their election choice, pulling arguments out of their arse as they go – but otherwise, it’s not such a big issue. It’s just one of those things that people have an idea that Finland hasn’t become a multicultural ghetto and they don’t want it to be that way. And they haven’t really thought about it much deeper than that. And that’s the problem.

    I think PS are basically a populist party. Look at their history – they were supposed to represent disgruntled farmers and ‘ordinary folk’ who were fed up at Rule from Helsinki. Later, Venemmo oversaw the ‘repatriation’ of Karelian immigrants, and saw in them a classic ‘lost tribe’ mythology, the ‘forgotten Finns’, and exploited that ‘populist’ script to the full to build a political. You have to seperate REAL LIFE and political power and the ideas politicians use about society and culture, because politicians will never have a model of society or even the individual that is complex enough to capture all the variation. All micro- and macro-economic theories allow for variation in individual behaviour and identity, but in political terms, you cannot make that into a political platform.

    So, PS have built a platform on populist and now also nationalist policies, with some welfare-state friendly ideas too, the latter which appeal to the poorer demographic, which is their main political power base.

    The problem I have with PS is that nationalist politics breeds suspicion and xenophobia among the populace. Of course people have resentments to foreigners – and ‘foreigner’ can mean ‘south’ of the river, or south of the Equator, it doesn’t really matter. But ‘them’ and ‘us’ is built ito us. Also built into us are curiosity about the unknown and lots of personal experiences, most of which will tell us that foreigners are not that different to us. But of course, in war time, then ‘foreigner’ and ‘enemy’ mean that identifying with ‘people’ is the last thing we do with our enemy. No, we vilify them instead, we collect all the horrible stories. Nowadays, the media are a bit more grown up, and they usually just vilify the ‘regimes’ and the ‘militaries’, while keeping the ‘civilians’ as normal people. But you get the idea. The problem with PS is that they push us towards a war mentality over ‘foreigners’, which is totally unnecessary. Most nationalist anti-immigrationists talk about the invasion of immigrants, about the war of cultures, or the ‘scavenging off benefits’. It’s rhetoric designed to make people feel under seige. Now in Finland, of course we can point to PS supporters and say they are not ‘against’ foreigners, and they might be quite friendly, but what they don’t take responsibility for is all the rhetoric that is going around. The end result is that foreigners feel that perhaps they are not welcome in Finland after all. That reaction and feeling unwelcome is an overreaction in just the same way that talk about an ‘invasion of immigrants’ is an overreaction. Fear breeds more fear, hostility breeds more hostility. The situation gets worse. And it’s all unnecessary. The social problems don’t go away, either for ordinary Finns or for ordinary immigrants. Likewise, the debate gets characterised by throwing around disparaging stereotypes, either of foreigners, or of supporters of popular parties. But really, that is what comes when you start using nationalist policies as a political platform.

    So, you really cannot complain, PS supporters, about the flack you are getting from people and the press, and comparisons with Nazis and Fascists and others. Because these reactions are just a continuation of the overreaction that nationalist politicians provoke as a way of creating support. They hone in the things that people are unhappy about, but which they probably have an unbalanced view of. In other words, tough shit Fascists, you’ve made your bed, now lie it. 🙂

  18. Allan Beck

    Enrique, do you have your blood pressure medication at hand?

    YLE news:

    “True Finns have nominated candidates for chairing the parliamentary committees they have received leadership over. Jussi Halla-aho, who has sternly criticised immigration in his blog, is to become chairman of the Administration Committee, the responsibilities of which include immigration policies. ”

    Take deep breaths and try not to pop an aneurysm.

    • Enrique

      Allan, I don’t suffer from high blood pressure nor do I lose sleep over what is going on in this country. But I feel inspired and this blog has been revindicated many times over. I had an interesting chat with a colleague who said that the new term for fascism is populism. In other words, it is the fascism of the twenty-first century. In the previous century we called it fascism. Do you agree?

    • Enrique

      –Hmmm… I am not so sure the populists are the ones advocating a totalitarian one-party regime though?

      That was the twentieth century version now we are in the twenty first century. What would you call a part, the PS, for example, that wants women to stay at home to make babies so immigrants won’t come to Finland? What woulld you call a party that openly supports xenophobia? I would have no doubt figuring out where the PS would take us if we lived in the 1930s. If we use some of their views of immigrants and cultural diversity, they are exclusionist and undemocratic. Immigrants could never adapt in their type of Finland because they aren’t supposed to.

    • Enrique

      Here is an interesting tweet by @sabergato who gives us a universal explanation for racism: “The most racist, rural, uneducated southern whites were very jealous & spiteful of Blacks.”

      If you look at the arguments of some True Finns, it is based on jealousy and spitefulness: Immigrants-refugees are abusing our social welfare; immigrants should not have rights to our social welfare system etc.