Thursday, 21 April 2011

True Finns - 2

Huvfudstadsbladet reports that True Finns leader Timo Soini has accused Sweden's media - in particular the leftwing Aftonbladet newspaper - of distorting Finland's image in the wake of the recent election result which gave the party a marked increase of the national vote. Soinu considers that European media in general have demonized the True Finns, painting the picture of a racist extremist party, and comparing its campaign with the most notorious rhetoric of the 1930s.

Perhaps a more realistic appraisal of the True Finns is provided by the UK-based Open Europe website, which in its blog has gone some way towards clarifying what the True Finns really signify and stand for:
The True Finns party, or Perussuomalaiset in Finnish, has its roots in an anti-incumbency, rural protest movement from the 1950s, leading to the formation of a political party, eventually named the Finnish Rural Party. The party's dissolution in 1995 led to the creation of the True Finns (one of the party's slogans, "Crush the power hold of the old parties", is testament to its heritage). More than anything else, its euroscepticism seems to flow out of this tradition (which also explains its opposition to providing more cash to the temporary eurozone bail-out fund, the EFSF, for more bail-outs - bail-outs which we agree aren't really working).

So clearly, the party has very different roots compared to other Scandinavian populist parties, such as the Sweden Democrats and the Danish People's Party (for Swedish speakers, here's an article breaking it down). The Front National, Geert Wilder's Freedom Party etc are much farther away again from the True Finns.

In other words, the party cannot be described as "far right", as some non-Finnish media insist on so doing. However, it cannot be described as "centre-right" either, as it draws heavily from an old school, social democratic agenda (i.e. high taxes and a big welfare state). Kind of like a social democratic tea party, with a lot of emphasis on national sovereignty and independence.
Additionally, Finnish academic linguist Jaakko Häkkinen has some interesting proposals (pdf) on how the language issue in Finland could be addressed.

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