For a successful fight, you need to pick a good enemy

The Finnish Greens are raising up a fight against Perussuomalaiset, the old populist-immigration-sceptic-national-leftist splinter party that has recently gone up in poll ratings. (HS in Finnish.)

This is a very traditional way of waking up the spirit in own ranks: find an enemy (make it up if it doesn't exist), point at it, tell how bad they are, set up a fight. Preferably, a fight you can win (so define the rules carefully). But, in a way, it's rather sad.

The Greens are supposed to be the main liberal party in this country, with best educated and relatively young membership, new ideas, strong support in the lower ranks of the immensely strong public-sector offices such as ministries, etc - and what are they doing? They don't have much more new to contribute than Perussuomalaiset. All they can do is find a straw man and start beating it. Well, the party does have a significant Stalinist-general-leftist tradition (from the likes of Satu Hassi) in addition to those who came from the Liberals (like Osmo Soininvaara), and apparently it shows here.

Perussuomalaiset is, of course, a populist party. It lacks constructive ideas. It mainly looks behind, wanting to reverse the progress towards European unification. Tax the rich, tax the corporate world, and raise the benefits - an easy cry from the opposition, and an impossible position if you go to talks to form a cabinet coalition .

Once the party gets a large representation in the parliament, it will be held responsible for its political programme - or to be precise, the inexistance of a realistic political programme. Its lack of positive ideas, lack of internal discipline, lack of trained and experienced politicians and lack of politically-appointed supportive staff in ministries will mean that it will disappoint its voters. "Get out of EU and keep out of NATO and close the borders and tax the rich and give money to everyone else" will not carry it very far. It will fall into internal pickering and schisms, splinter up and generally not be of any good. The only real impact it has is that it forces everyone to open up the immigration debate, which has been in some ways a taboo until this year. This impact is already very visible. But otherwise the Perussuomalaiset has been able to contribute very little.

But is it now really so that the Greens are not any better? Do they think that they are in competition of the same voters? That is absurd. Those who vote Perussuomalaiset are most likely proletarian people who are disappointed in SDP and sometimes perhaps Keskusta (the Center Party). The Greens are competing with Kokoomus (Conservatives), and the most obvious property of any Green is that they sneer at proles. "Red-neck" is their ultimate insult, and the internal code of conduct in the Greens is that above all, it is important to show disdain of lower-class people. I can imagine a manual worker who is up to his elbows in grease or filth will vote for Kokoomus - even before he sets up his own company to organize and sell his labour - but Greens? Not really.

It looks like the Greens cannot beat the Conservatives, who are not really so conservative, and who are perhaps the most likely partner in any future coalition, so it might be a bit dangerous to insult them in large scale. So what do they do? They select an enemy who they can safely shout at, from a safe distance, and hurl insults. And not get involved in debate about actual issues - such as immigration, or taxation, or future development of public services, or how to arrange things for municipalities whose economic strength just doesn't carry the weight of the ever expanding obligations imposed by the state.

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