What political capital will the Finnish far-right Perussuomalaiset party gain from Oulu?

by , under Enrique Tessieri

The Perussuomalaiset (PS)* is the first modern Finnish party to capitalize politically on Finland’s Islamophobic and anti-immigration sentiment. With parliamentary elections around the corner on April 14, the question is if the PS will get a boost from the sexual assault cases of Oulu?

Another question is the Blue Reform Party, which split from the PS in June 2017. Will Oulu give it political capital as the PS is hoping?

Considering that the Blue Reform Party have about 2% support in diffrent opinion polls, it is unlikely that will pose a threat in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The PS’ toxic Islamophobic rhetoric and fear-mongering were important factors that helped it to secure its historic parliamentary election victory of 2011, when it won 39 seats from 5 seats in 2007.

Four years later, in 2015, the PS got a boost from a widely covered sexual assault case about a month before the parliamentary elections. The case, which happened in the Helsinki neighborhood of Tapanila, sparked lynch-mob hysteria and fingerpointing on social media and in print media.

The PS became in 2015 with 39 seats the second-biggest party in parliament.

Like before and today, the reporting by the media of sexual assault cases by foreigners is the same: It paints all migrants with a single brush and spreads stereotypes made by Islamophobes and racists. One of these is that sexual assault crimes soared after 2015 when over 30,000 asylum seekers came to the country.

But charts like the one below tell a totally different story than what groups like the PS and politicians of mainstream parties are telling their voters.

The chart above shows that suspected sexual assault cases of minors by Finns totalled 82% in 2017 versus 18% by foreigners. As we can see, the number of overall suspected sexual assault cases in the chart has retreated while rising slightly among foreigners. Source: Statistics Finland.

@oula_silver retweets @JanneKuusi and makes a very good point: “In the face of the ministerial delegations and the millions of subsidies, how were the other 1,400 pedophile cases treated with respect to the nine cases [of Oulu]? A justified question. @JanneKuusi. #moraalipaniikki

So here is the big question: Will the PS benefit from what happened in Oulu? Will its Islamophobic and anti-immigration message help it as it did in 2011 and 2015?

The jury is still out on that question but there is one matter that must worry Jussi Halla-aho and his followers: The PS is today a clearly far-right party that has lost its former Rural Party (SMP) base after it imploded in June 2017. Moreover, the PS no longer has its former chairperson, Timo Soini, who defected to the Blue Reform Party.

It should not come as a surprise why the PS and Blue Reform Party have come to dominate Finland’s Islamophobic and anti-immigration environment. Both have, with the help of the mainstream parties like the Center Party and National Coalition Party, succeeded at turning Finland into a hostile country for migrants, especially Muslims.

The Perussuomalaiset (PS) party imploded on June 13, 2017 into two factions, the PS and New Alternative, which is now called Blue Reform Party. Despite the name changes, we believe that it is the same party in different clothing. Both factions are hostile to cultural diversity never mind Muslims and other visible minorities. One is more open about it while the other says it in a different way. 

A direct translation of Perussuomalaiset in English would be something like “basic” or “fundamental Finn.” Official translations of the Finnish name of the party, such as Finns Party or True Finns, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and racism. We, therefore, at Migrant Tales prefer to use in our postings the Finnish name of the party once and after that the acronym PS.