In the general election last weekend, the nationalist and populist True Finn Party emerged from political obscurity after largely campaigning on the evils of the European Union and its bailouts of Greece and Ireland. It claimed 39 seats in Finland’s Parliament — almost eight times the number it won in the 2007 election — and it is likely to become a partner in any coalition government. ...
Finland is not alone. Anti-European Union and anti- parties have been on the rise in Sweden, Italy, Hungary and the Netherlands in the past year, and more may follow. It is a worrisome trend for supporters of the union, ...
Mr. Soini [THE HEAD OF THE TRUE FINN PARTY WHICH WON THE MOST SEATS INTHE ELECTION] — who is 48 and has been active in politics since he was 17 — repeatedly lashed out at the European Union. (He is fond of calling it “the heart of darkness.”) A true democracy, he has said, is “only possible in individual states.”
He has also sold himself as a man of the people who is attuned to the needs of the poor and working class at a time when the distance between rich and poor is growing and Finland, like many other European countries, is considering austerity measures.
“Soini talks ordinary language with ordinary words,” said Ville Pernaa, the director of the Center for Parliamentary Studies at the University of Turku in Finland. “He told the voters that they were wasting money paying for other people’s debts. Why should they pay for that when we need more doctors in the small towns of Finland?”
Perttu Pouttu, a retired worker for a Helsinki energy company who meets friends in the Hakaniemi Market Square most mornings, said he had voted for the True Finns because Mr. Soini’s arguments made sense to him.
“Of course the bailouts raise questions,” he said. “Will we get that money back? Where are the banks? This is their problem.”
At the same time, Mr. Pouttu said he was worried that Finland had admitted too many refugees. “It does not touch me personally,” he said. “But it bugs me that by law we have to give them apartments. When I retired, no one gave me an apartment.”