Wednesday

18th Oct 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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

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. Catalonia will 'not back down'
  2. New toxic incident in EU building ahead of summit
  3. Murdered Malta journalist's family invited to Parliament
  4. EU food safety chief denies keeping studies 'secret'
  5. EU states pledge 24,000 resettlement places so far
  6. US ready for arms sale to update Greece's F-16 fleet
  7. Austria's Green leaders step down following election failure
  8. Icelandic journalists protest ban on reporting PM's finances

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  2. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  5. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  6. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  7. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  8. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  9. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  10. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness
  12. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year