Normally, nobody aside from political science buffs paid much heed to the Finnish elections. This time Europe was fully tuned in due to the rise in the polls for the True Finns, a populist party that opposes bailouts for the EU’s beleaguered members.
Now the interest in Finland will persist as the True Finns quintupled their vote moving from 4% to19%. While the polls preceding the elections had predicted that support for the True Finns was ebbing as their opponents mobilized their voters, the True Finns did 4% better than expected.
Their leader Tino Soini declared bluntly “The party is over…Why should Finland bail anyone out? We won’t allow Finnish cows to be milked by other hands.”
The Finns have a long history of financial sobriety. Of all the European countries who took loans from the United States in the First World War, only Finland paid back in full, something that endeared Finland to the Americans. This may have deterred Stalin from swallowing up Finland along the lines of Eastern Europe following the Second World War. Following a major recession from 1991-1994, the Finns overcame it on their own. They now expect others to do the same.
The True Finns may not be able to block Finland’s one billion dollar contribution to the bailout (the Eurozone requires unanimity and Finland must ratify the decision in a parliamentary vote), but they may very well transform Finland into a pocket Germany that will insist on harsh payback terms to those countries receiving the assistance.
The Social Democratic Party also opposes the bailout because it feels that the bankers rather than the taxpayers should assume part of the pain. The National Coalition Party, the biggest vote getter with 21%, will have to take either the True Finns or the Social Democrats into the coalition.
The True Finns have now repeated the breakthrough of populist Euroskeptic parties throughout Scandinavia. Soini is a friend of Nigel Farage of the United Kingdom Independence Party, that wants Britian to leave the European Union. The European Parliament increasingly has to deal with a parliamentary faction, composed of various nationalist parties, that is opposed to the idea of an ever closer union of the member countries.
Like many of his nationalist brethren, Soini is pro Israel as appeared from this statement in an election debate:
“I don’t want to take Finland to war anywhere. This is an extremely grave reminder of the development that’s happened in different Arab countries, but when Mubarak left there wasn’t a democracy that materialized, there is a 75 year old general currently in power, that’s what has happened.
Where the Middle East is concerned, I am a friend of Israel I dare to say, which is surrounded by hostile Arab states. It has (Israel) the right to live and to exist.
Source material can be found at this site.