Wednesday, April 20, 2011

True Finns win breakthrough

Timo Soini, leader of True Finns
A populist party called True Finns has won a breakthrough in the recent national elections in Finland. Their share of the vote jumped from 4% to 19%, giving them 39 seats in parliament. They were only 50,000 votes away from being the most popular party.

Although they are by no means a traditionalist party, their stance on national issues is better than what has previously been on offer in Finland. For instance, they are critical of the loss of sovereignty to the European Union and they advocate limits on immigration. They strongly believe in the preservation of distinct national cultures.

They believe that the spiritual should not be neglected in favour of the material:

Finns think that the basic social structures ... should be based primarily on spiritual values. The material is a prerequisite for the achievement of a dignified life, but matter is not an end in itself. The pursuit of truth and spirituality is an integral part of humanity. Truths and perspectives are different, which means that mankind is naturally divided into different cultures. Cultures are mankind's most precious assets. Lasting prosperity can not be built on nothing. True Finns want to be a sovereign nation state and the advocates of Finnish culture.

True Finns are also against the managerial liberal state, criticising "an elitist conception of democracy with an emphasis on bureaucratic expertise as a source of power". They want a more populist conception of democracy, and one that is tied to national culture:

Populism is not a universal ideology, like socialism and capitalism, but it is always bound to culture and national character. Even the name of our party, True Finns, will tell you that our policy is based on the history of Finland and Finnish culture. The True Finns want to defend their own kansansuvereniteettia [?], which means only and exclusively for the people who constitute a separate nation from other nations is a perpetual and unrestricted right to decide freely and independently their own affairs.

I thought they made an interesting point here:

Nationalism is the recognition of the uniqueness of the individual as opposed to the cross-border nature of a policy, in practice, where individuals are forced to move across borders. Supranational policy states do not exist for its own citizens, but for the purpose of the strongest, and ultimately capital.

Individuals gain in uniqueness when they belong to distinct national cultures, as they cannot then be thought of as being readily interchangeable. And a policy of open borders is not, in practice, enacted for the benefit of the ordinary individual, but for powerful vested interest groups.

Whatever faults the True Finns party might have, their emergence does help to open up politics in Europe. Their electoral success is a positive sign, which will hopefully encourage others who wish to preserve a distinctly national existence.


  1. kansansuvereniteettia = sovereignty of the people

  2. "And a policy of open borders is not, in practice, enacted for the benefit of the ordinary individual, but for powerful vested interest groups."

    By 'powerful vested interest groups', I guess you mean capital. A lot of people on the traditionalist right are quick to blame marxism or other variants of socialism for all our woes, but in reality I don't think those ideologies extend much further than the arts departments of our universities.

    I don't think it is a coincidence that as the industrial revolution took off in the 18th and 19th centuries and the capitalist class began to flex its muscle and take power, that liberalism became the dominant ideology in the western world. Liberalism treats us as individual, self-determining actors in the political and social spheres, whilst capitalism reduces us to individual and self-interested players in the economic sphere of life.

    My apologies for being off topic; the success of the True Finns is truly heartening. The historical link between capitalism and liberalism is just something I've been considering lately and I would like to hear your views on it, Mark.

  3. Here is a view from Finland:

  4. Anon, thanks. The writer of that blog confirms that the True Finns are not a deeply traditionalist party but express a popular feeling that the right and the left have both failed in their own ways:

    "Both the traditional Left and the traditional Right have cheated and abandoned their support groups; Left has abandoned the working class and has become a shamelessly elitistic clique fraternizing with various pedigree underdog fringe groups (Feminists, immigrants, sexual minorities, university students) while the Right has abandoned the traditional basic values - home, faith, Fatherland - and has become a conspiracy which knows price for everything and value for nothing and whose intention is to sell Finland by kilo to the first bidder on offered price."

  5. @anon
    I do not buy it. In one sentence he says that social security has eroded and people die from starvation and they did not during the WWII. Later he says that there is a "social shopping" where immigrants live on benefits. It is interesting when you bear in mind rising budget in terms of % of GDP throughout modern european history - the rise is caused by increasing social spending.

    I cannot speak for Finland but what I see in our Central European reality
    -you can live solely on benefits even as a native - unless you are a single male (just 70 years ago you had to work or beg no matter of which sex you were)
    -there is a strong redistribution of wealth (huge taxes and VAT)
    -majority of state expenses is in social spehere - pensions, social security, health care

  6. Mr. Richardson,

    You should have a look at what is happening in Hungary right now: link.

  7. @2nd Anon

    I posted the link to the Takkirauta blog. It is true that she is wrong when it comes to people starving to death in Finland. The "social shopping" phenomenon is true, especially among African and Middle Eastern immigrants.

  8. @Sami
    I do not doubt about "social shopping" and I have not claimed otherwise but haven't written it explicitely (my fault :( ).

  9. Double thumbs up. Unfortunatly this issue is being reported in the West as being a consequence of the GFC. That is that if we have enough economic security we shouldn't worry about culture.

  10. Just about every country in western Europe now seems to have at least one populist right wing party with seats in government. The only exceptions are Ireland, Germany, Spain and Britain where the first past the post electoral system ensures UKIP and the BNP are unable to get into government.

  11. That's great. Hopefully the forecast trends in Nyborg's paper here in Personality and Individual Differences don't eventuate.

  12. The True Finns is first and foremost a protest party. It does not have a very coherent ideology apart from a somewhat vaguely defined nationalism and anti-globalism. Most people voted for it because they wanted to give the finger to the current anti-nationalist, neoliberal establishmen, as explained in Ironmistress's somewhat over-the-top essay (people are starving in Finland?!??) linked above. ("True Finns" is indeed an unsuccessful translation of the party's Finnish name. "Ordinary Finns" or "Joe and Jane Average Party" would be closer to what the Finnish name means.)

    However, the True Finns is now such a large party it cannot be excluded from the government coalition to be formed. Nor can the other parties afford to let the True Finns remain an opposition party, because that way it would grow even larger.

    Most of the new True Finns MPs are inexperienced in national politics, but hopefully they will manage to persuade their coalition partners to accede to some of their un-PC views, such as immigration restriction. Among the new MPs, there's Jussi Halla-aho, Finland's most important and outspoken immigration restrictionist, who got a landslide election victory in Helsinki.

  13. Isn't it sad that the public feel they need to distance themselves from the political establishment in order to be represented. Nonetheless this is the way politics will be changed. If the general public are sated, or subdued, by a mixture of reasonable economic prospects and pc shibboleths, the special interests will run rampant.