Thursday

23rd Mar 2017

Focus

Finnish nationalist MP stirs immigration debate

  • Several locals expressed concern about the aggressive mood in the town of Lieksa following Halla-aho’s visit. (Photo: timonenko)

The nationalist Finns' party is fighting to increase its vote in the European Parliament May elections.

Current estimates give the party 15 percent support which is significantly higher than the 9 percent it received during the previous European elections but lower than the 18 percent it scores in polls for next year’s national parliamentary elections.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

One obvious reason for the wavering support is that party chair MP Timo Soini is not running. This leaves just a few well-known names on the Finns’ MEP candidate list.

One candidate likely to garner plenty of support for the party is MP Jussi Halla-aho.

Halla-aho, who was amply quoted in the manifesto of far-right Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, uses the slogan 'A Finnish Finland in a European Europe'.

The slogan also figures in the political platform of Suomen Sisu, an organisation with strong ties to Finnish neo-fascism.

Currently at least two members of The Finns parliamentary group are members of Suomen Sisu, including Halla-aho himself. Several more have been previously affiliated with it.

While most parties are relatively quiet on the issue of immigration, Halla-aho has been stirring the debate.

During a talk in mid-February in the small town of Lieksa he came into heated argument with some local immigrants, who found that his speech "on the problems and costs of immigration" stoked feelings of fear and hate in the local community.

Lieksa has featured in headlines in recent years due to violent attacks on the town's small immigrant population.

"Problems do not arise when somebody says inconsiderate or nasty things to immigrants. The problem is that some immigrant groups have created, through their own actions, very negative stereotypes for themselves," Halla-aho said, according to local newspaper Karjalainen.

Several Lieksa locals expressed concern about the aggressive mood in the town following Halla-aho’s visit.

"I'm afraid there will be acts of violence or vandalism against immigrants. I also worry for the safety of our employees," Ari Marjeta, chair of the city council in Lieksa, said.

But despite Halla-aho's efforts it seems unlikely that immigration will top The Finns' agenda for the May EU elections. Of the other Finns candidates, only Simon Elo and former Suomen Sisu member Juha Eerola mention immigration as an election issue.

Instead the main focus is likely to be issues concerning the eurozone.

In early February Soini reinforced The Finns’ candidate list with Toimi Kankaanniemi, a famous eurosceptic and former Christian Democrat MP.

Kankaanniemi, who became a member of The Finns last year, announced his candidacy by saying he wants a "Europe-wide free trade area to replace the EU".

The article previously said Simon Elo was a member of Suomen Sisu. This is not the case.

Finland threatens summit deal over bailout fund

Finland is rejecting a just-agreed deal on letting the eurozone's permanent bailout fund buy government bonds on the open market, a change meant to lower Italy and Spain's borrowing costs.

Finnish politics face turbulence

Finland's centre-right National Coalition Party will later this month decide who becomes chair of the party and the country's PM. Alexander Stubb is one of the forerunners.

EUobserved

When two worlds collide

Two worlds collided at the end of last week. The shrill, uncompromising one of British politics and the technocratic, dry, world of the European Commission.

EUobserved

Schadenfreude and fire-walking in the EP

There was outright glee in the EP on Thursday. It was time to dust off everyone’s favourite German word for pleasure in the misfortune of others.

EU parliament approves Juncker commission

MEPs have approved Juncker's new EU commission, with a slightly smaller majority than in 2010, and following a number of concessions on portfolios.

News in Brief

  1. Man arrested in Antwerp after trying to mow people down
  2. Marine Le Pen goes to Russia
  3. Dutch post-election talks prioritise green-right coalition
  4. EU summons Turkish envoy over threats to Europeans
  5. British police make first arrests in London terror probe
  6. EU commission has received Facebook reply on WhatsApp
  7. Rome expects thousands of protesters at summit
  8. Dijsselbloem says his comments had 'Dutch directness'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  2. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  3. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  4. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  5. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  6. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  8. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans
  9. MEP Tomáš ZdechovskýThe European Commission Has Failed in Its Fight Against Food Waste
  10. ILGA-EuropeEP Recognises Discrimination Faced by Trans & Intersex People
  11. Nordic Council of Ministers25 Nordic Bioeconomy Cases for Sustainable Change
  12. European Free AllianceSupporting Artur Mas: Democracy and Freedom Cannot Be Convicted

Latest News

  1. UN could step in where EU fails in child migrant protection
  2. May: London attacker was known to the police
  3. Ending the migrant deal with Turkey may save the EU
  4. Poland unlikely to face EU discipline on rule of law
  5. Rutte courted Wilders' voters, now he must deliver
  6. Barnier to UK: trade talks will come after settling accounts
  7. EU declaration to voice unity in troubled times
  8. Terror attack shuts down UK parliament