Elementary Finns

A few of my English-speaking friends have asked what is the fuss about this party "Perussuomalaiset" in Finland, and what it actually represents, and whether people should be afraid of this extreme right populist party - a particular concern for those who have a non-Aryan skin colour. And what even the name of the party actually means.

Well, no. No need to be afraid.

Basically, the party does not have much coherent ideology except anger towards the elite. It is not "far right" for any meaningful definition of political "right". If you look at their policy statements, they are mostly somewhat to the left of major political parties, quite close to the Greens and the Left League (Vasemmistoliitto) though with some exceptions. Their views on big corporations, taxation, redistributive policies, etc are definitely on the left. They just take distance from the more absurd forms of radical feminism, statism, political correctness and immigration frenzy that are prevalent in the red and watermelon parties, thus Greens and Left League plus the traditional "left" SDP like to brand them as far right.

And the name of the party, what does "Perussuomalaiset" mean? Their own translation to English (well, not their own, since they have none, but the one in Wikipedia) is True Finns, but don't be confused; it's not really about racial purity of the Ugric tribes. Another translation would be Basic Finns and that gets closer. I would perhaps call them Elementary Finns - just like "peruskoulu" is "elementary school". People perceive that they are low-income and unemployed people with poor education, but that's not quite right. The ethos is more about the "betrayed workers, pensioners and middle class". Ordinary people. A Tea Party that speaks for a welfare state.

And why Perussuomalaiset is not dangerous to anyone is because they are not going to gain much real power, whatever the number of seats in parliament. They lack proper internal organization and discipline, and they don't have support in the large and important public sector machinery. You cannot do serious politics in Finland unless you have a significant share of your own, devoted agents in ministries, quangos and other organizations that distribute our tax juice.

There surely are a few racists among Perussuomalaiset, but they're on the fringe, and generally, Finns are not easily attracted by extreme, violent political movements. Events around 1918 provided a fairly long-lasting vaccination, since the civil war and the bitter feud that followed taught us a lot. But the primary reason for Elementary Finns not being a danger is their lack of disciplined organisation. There's not much tradition of adhering to party line and shutting up - rather to the contrary. Defections in and out of the party are the norm. Timo Soini is very popular but he is certainly no Führer and his supporters are no stromtroopers.

The long-time established power party, Social Democrats (SDP), is naturally horrified, because they are staying permanently behind Kokoomus (the conservatives) and fell behind Keskusta (Center party) again, and they now risk becoming the fourth largest party, with Perussuommalaiset closing in. That effectively means an end to the era that lasted for 50 years where they could build a power base of political figures in government, high officials in ministries, and domination in the trade unions. Now, only trade unions are left to them, and worldwide economic changes have eroded even that power base (and even there, some big ones fall).

Yes, Perussuomalaiset is a populist party. They have hardly any actual policy, they have little new ideas about how to build the economy for the nation. "Tax the rich" and "stop the waste" does not carry very far. The requirement for better immigration control is a contribution to actual policy, but there the other parties have quickly come along the same lines. However, overall we could say that Perussuomalaiset is not really any worse off regarding having some vision for future than others - particularly SDP who is utterly lost after it achieved its historical goals (the targets of the SDP party program of 1903 were largely achieved by the 1960's, and since 1980's the party's been just a machinery to be exploited by opportunists) and cannot admit that it is now a conservative party that only reflects on its own past and does not even know what it wants to conserve.

Therefore SDP has to try some gambles. When a fire erupted at a Tampere pizza restaurant that was run by an Iraqi man, and three inhabitants in the house were killed by smoke, senior SDP frontbenchers Päivi Lipponen (wife of former chairman and PM Paavo Lipponen) and Kimmo Kiljunen (who had his very own expenses scandal a while ago) condemned racism and required everyone else to perform purity rituals and join a front against the xenophobic elements behind this attack.

This backfired. In about one day the police cracked the case. It turned out that the arson was not motivated by any racism. The restaurant keeper himself, and three of his friends and relatives, are now held for aggravated arson and involuntary manslaughter. It's not been handled in court yet and police is not releasing all details, so it's largely speculative, but the case looks like an attempt at insurance fraud that got severely out of hand. And SDP looks now even more discredited and ridiculous.

So, it is possible that Elementary Finns will overtake SDP in terms of number of members in Parliament, but since it does take decades to renew the machinery in ministries and other politically appointed posts, they will not be able to run policy in this country. No worry. And even if they could, no worry from that point of view. Their socialist policies would be the real concern if they were to get any real power.

Ei kommentteja:

Lähetä kommentti