Finnish nationalists on the political rise

finland-coat-of-armsAs Finland’s top three political parties suffered losses in the recent European elections, the country’s nationalistic True Finns party captured their first European parliament seat ever. True Finns support base has grown impressively since its weak 0.5 percent showing in the previous 2004 Euro elections.

This time around the eurosceptic True Finns took nearly 10 percent of the overall vote, allowing them to take one of the 13 seats Finland holds in the EU assembly. The AFP’s voting results indicate that Timo Soini, the leader of True Finns, won around 130,000 direct votes, more than any other Finnish candidate.

Even the current Finnish prime minister conceded the substantial inroads the nationalist party has made. “Timo Soini’s True Finns have won these elections. For us this is a loss, our support is going downwards. Responsibility weighs,” Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen admitted in an interview with public broadcaster YLE.

One of the main platforms of the True Finns is stricter immigration rules. They are also decidedly eurosceptic, a stance that appears to be attracting a growing number of Finnish supporters.

“We got support from the left and all over. Many people who did not vote in previous EU elections voted for us now. We had a good, credible, EU-critical campaign and good candidates,” Soini told YLE.

The present government’s Centre party, as well as the conservative National Coalition party, each took three seats in the EU elections. Finland’s largest opposition party, the Social Democrats, won two seats this time around, while the Greens also took two seats.

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