Jussi Halla-aho and Riikka Purra of the Finns Party talked during an extraordinary meeting of the opposition party’s parliamentary group in Helsinki on 2 December 2019. (Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva)

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THE FINNS PARTY has emerged as one of the largest right-wing populist parties in Western Europe, highlights Heikki Paloheimo, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Tampere, Finland.

Helsingin Sanomat on Friday reported that popular support for the opposition party has crept up to 22.7 per cent, matching its all-time high from mid-2011.

The Finns Party is currently by far the most well supporter political party in the country, boasting an advantage of 5.5 percentage points over the National Coalition. The two opposition parties are followed in the poll by the five ruling parties: the Social Democrats (15.1%), Green League (12.5%), Centre (11.1%), Left Alliance (8.4%) and Swedish People’s Party (4.5%).

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Paloheimo on Saturday cautioned other parties against re-aligning themselves towards the political right in an attempt to gnaw away at the popularity of the Finns Party, as doing so would only ensure the agenda of the populist party becomes part of the political mainstream.

“The latest polls show that there’s nothing unclear about which party is the leading opposition party. The Finns Party has a political profile that’s unique, distinguishable from other parties. When other parties desperately try to echo the political statements of the Finns Party, the Finns Party is the one that benefits the most,” he wrote on Facebook on Saturday.

“Other parties are making its platform part of the political mainstream,” he added. “Why would the voters who support these themes vote for ‘the Finns Party light’, when they could support the real Finns Party?”

Parties and Elections in Europe, a database about political parties, elections and governments on the continent, has estimated that right-wing populist parties are currently more popular only in Italy and Switzerland. The support, however, is divided between three parties in both countries, totalling at 54.5 per cent in Italy and 26.6 per cent in Switzerland.

Paloheimo said Finnish voters may be of the opinion that the parties at the centre of the political spectrum are too similar and are therefore looking for alternatives to the parties that have dominated domestic politics for the past decades.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi

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