Timo Soini, the chairperson of the Finns Party, has underlined that the opposition party stands firmly behind its immigration policy.
The Finns Party, he argues, is a social movement that advocates a wide variety of causes. “A polyphonic social movement incorporates a variety of themes, and so it should do,” he underscores in a blog entry published on Sunday.
The opposition leader commented on the issue after coming under criticism for his position on immigration from Jussi Halla-aho, a Finns Party representative on the European Parliament. Halla-aho on Sunday estimated that the Finns Party should campaign more vocally on immigration as its critical approach to issue is a key reason behind its popularity.
“The party leadership has been reluctant to address the issue. Chairperson Timo Soini, for example, has noted that he is personally not interested in immigration. I feel that our support base strongly disagrees with Soini on the issue,” Halla-aho told Lännen Media, a producer of content for 12 regional newspapers in western and northern Finland.
Soini assured that immigration issues will be a part of the platform of the Finns Party. According to him, immigration is first and foremost an economic problem as it puts an additional strain on public coffers.
“The single biggest flaw to me personally are the millions of Finns who earn around 1,000 euros,” Soini writes.
A poll commissioned by Helsingin Sanomat in December found that public support for the Finns Party has decreased from well over 20 per cent to 14.2 per cent since the 2011 parliamentary elections.
Soini pointed out that fluctuations in the support ratings of parties are commonplace. “Parties will always strive for the highest support possible, but not by all means necessary,” he writes.
Halla-aho also criticised the opposition party for what he estimates was its disproportionate emphasis on the question of equal marriage rights.
“The issue of gay marriage was an important part of our platform, and we stuck together. We did what we were supposed to do,” Soini replied.
In addition, Halla-aho estimated that the majority of potential Finns Party voters regard immigration as one of the three most important issues in the elections. Finland must according to him engage in a more open debate on immigration specifically due to the need of immigrants for publicly-funded services.
“More people are moving into Finland than the country can integrate. The development is manifested as dreary employment and crime statistics, as well as alienation and the number of school drop-outs. It will result in a negative cycle that is already being witnessed in Sweden,” he argued.
Juhani Saarinen – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
© HELSINGIN SANOMAT
Photo: Roni Rekomaa / Lehtikuva