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The Finnish government convened to discuss its budget proposal for next year at Kesäranta, the official residence of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre), in Helsinki on 28 August. (Credit: Martti Kainulainen – Lehtikuva)
The Finnish government convened to discuss its budget proposal for next year at Kesäranta, the official residence of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre), in Helsinki on 28 August. (Credit: Martti Kainulainen – Lehtikuva)

 

Juha Lavapuro, a professor of public law at the University of Turku, and Martin Scheinin, a professor of international law and human rights at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy, have expressed their concern about the deterioration of the principles of the rule of law in Finland.

Scheinin views in a recent blog entry that the process has already begun.

“Repeated revisions made deliberately to undermine the rights and legal protection of asylum seekers are an example of malevolent use of legislative powers. Attacks against the constitutional catalogue of basic rights and the professors of constitutional law who interpret it are but a taste of bigger strikes,” he writes.

Lavapuro states that it has become the rule rather than the exception that populist movements, after rising to power, will launch a silent coup to bring courts, news outlets and other critical institutions of the civil society step by step under as tight a control as possible.

“Although the populists’ rise to power seems to have slowed down in Finland, France and the Netherlands, the threat has by no means been eliminated. Election results from our western neighbour are a plain cautionary example of this,” he adds.

Finland, he underscores, must take action to consolidate the institutions that uphold the principles of the rule of law and the constitutional regulation regarding them.

Scheinin, on the other hand, is not particularly concerned about the continuing rise of populist parties.

“I believe that making such forecasts will rather resuscitate populist movements, the existence of which depends on continuing growth in popular support. If the support stabilises or begins to decrease, populism will lose its charm. In Finland, the Blue Reform will vanish from the political landscape next year and the Finns Party will see its popularity drop to around 10 per cent,” he states.

He argues that the real threat to the principles of the rule of law is the spinelessness of the ruling parties. Populist parties, he points out, seek not to win over the majority of the public but rather to constantly gain visibility and exacerbate polarisation.

“Their primary option is typically to stay in the opposition,” says Scheinin. “But sometimes a path to the government may open up in circumstances where it is difficult to form a majority government.”

“Harnessing the ruling parties […] to pull the wagon of the populists is the most important reason, why the principles of the rule of law may be under threat also in Finland.”

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi

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