Monday, June 12, 2017

The Finnish Government Is Falling Due To New Finns Party Leader

Via Business Insider:

The election of MEP Jussi Halla-aho has plunged Finland into a political crisis, with many expecting the three-party right-wing coalition to collapse over his strident anti-EU, -euro and anti-immigrant stances. The Finns Party leadership is now occupied by far right-wingers with the party congress last weekend choosing MPs Laura Huhtasaari as first vice-chair and Teuvo Hakkaraine as joint second vice-chair.

Previous leader for twenty years, Timo Soini, who is the current Foreign Minister, took a more moderate and practical position. He took over from the defunct Finnish Smallholders Party when it was in danger of extinction and led it to a high of nearly 20% of votes in parliamentary elections.

Both Halla-aho and Hakkarainen have been convicted of racist crimes in 2012 and 2016 respectively. In his acceptance speech, the new leader was not conciliatory at all, drawing up future policy battle lines instead. He criticised other parties, which includes his now coalition colleagues, for their positive EU viewpoints especially on integration.

Parroting typically modern populist parlance, he said the EU's freedom of workers policy distorted labour markets and the euro weakened nations to control their budgets. Although he admitted that leaving the EU was not possible now, he said, "I believe staying in the EU is not in Finland's long-term interests".

"Our job as the only Eurosceptic party is to instigate and maintain critical well-founded discussion on the topic. We should seek allies in countries which are also sceptical about loss of national sovereignty".

So links will be established with the Swedish People's Party and Danish People's Party, which together would give the Finns Party leverage in the European Parliament and Nordic Council.

Crisis Meeting

But just as Halla-aho and colleagues were celebrating what they assumed is a new dawn, government coalition partners, Centre Party and National Coalition Party (Kokoomus) and their leaders proved notto be in the mood for surrender.

PM Sipilä called immediately for a meeting today (Monday) due to Halla-aho's decision that Soini could not continue as FM. "The Finns Party is a completely new party with new policies now," Sipilä growled, adding that no negotiations on immigration or other previously agreed government programmes would take place.

NCP leader and Finance Minister Petteri Orpo stated his party would re-consider whether it should remain in a Finns Party government coalition. "The NCP will not stay unconditionally," he said, "This is matter of principles.. Finland is open, rich in languages and culture".

Others are waiting in the wings, with both the Swedish People's Party and Christian Democrats announcing they would possibly be willing to be part of a new coalition. The SPP, despite its name, is based on the Swedish language and is mainly a broad umbrella of opinions, but not anti-EU or immigrant.

However, whatever the outcome, the fact is that the Finns Party is sinking in the polls - the last in April showing support at 9%. In 2015 Finns Party got 17.7% of the vote and 38 MPs. Now at half that figure and with, by Finnish standards, an extremist holding the reins, its future looks grim. In addition to his conviction, it recently came out that Halla-aho had a child with a woman with whom he had a long affair.

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