Anti-EU True Finn Timo Soini coverted into "true European"
Candidate in June elections now worried about EU competitiveness
How to transform the staunchly anti-EU attitudes of a True Finn voter into the pseudo kind, if not actually favourably disposed towards the Union?
It is a tough ask, especially as the motives of the True Finns’ leader Timo Soini - the main architect in the earlier wall construction project dividing Finland and Brussels - have been found suspicious by both his own supporters and the opponents alike.
It has been believed that by running for the European Parliament, Soini is just exploiting the fact that the True Finns are on the upswing, with an eye on the next parliamentary elections at home, that he is planning to go to Brussels in order to catch his breath, or to give his successor candidates an opportunity to prove their competence.
Soini does not deny any one of these allegtions, while claiming that the most important reason for his seeking a seat in the European Parliament is the fact that he has simply changed his opinion.
”For a long time, I was against running for the European Parliament. Then I suddenly realised that if I do not do this, I will regret it for the rest of my life. Because of the financial crisis, the world is changing rapidly, and now it is time to act”, Soini says.
Goodbye national unity, welcome one Europe! Is this what you thought when you had a change of heart?
”No, I am not a turncoat. I just changed my mind, it is another matter”, Soini commented.
Whether or not Soini’s conversion is regarded as genuine, one thing is sure. In the next few weeks the True Finns are not likely to be such outspoken critics of the EU as they have been until quite recently.
At least Soini is not demanding that Finland should leave the EU.
”In order to pull out of the EU, the Finnish people and the majority of Parliament should be behind the plan. I feel that Finland alone cannot leave the EU”, Soini notes.
Like a decent EU citizen, Soini is worried about the EU, saying that all its directives are bound to render the Union uncompetitive.
”Focusing on directives relating to porpose monitoring, quail protection and such, will lead to a loss of the EU’s economic dynamics. More than 40 % of the EU’s finances are allocated to the support of old-fashioned farming, when it should be spent on innovations”, Soini charges.
However, Soini does not have an unnecessarily high opinion of himself and his potential career as a Member of the European Paliament.
After all, one MEP in the 736-seat European Parliament (the present number of 785 seats will decline to 736 in this election, with Finland losing one of its current 14 MEPs) is not likely to do wonders in a couple of years.
When it comes to separate questions, Soini is mostly interested in matters relating to Finland’s neighbouring areas as well as to occupational issues.
”If I am appointed a rapporteur, I am quite competent to doof doing the job”, Soini says.
Soini has nevertheless already defined his most important concrete objective.
”The True Finns party has no European cooperative network, and with my personality I am capable of building one. If we manage to create a group of like-minded MEPs in the European Parliament, I want to be involved”, Soini declares.
Soini has also already found a new political home in the European Parliament. Earlier in the spring, the True Finns agreed upon cooperation with the new pan-European and euro-sceptic Libertas grouping.
Opening a window into Europe is a historic move by the True Finns.
As for the election strategy, the party’s political shift could be risky, if the voters are not able to keep pace with the changes.
”Why do I risk our popularity with the voters by planning a visit to Europe? Because just now it is time to introduce new ideas. To put it bluntly, we can afford a slight loss and still cope with it”, Soini comments.
The most important groups of voters behind the growing popularity of the True Finns include particularly female supporters, as well as some people who previously voted for the Centre Party, as they share most of Soini’s social views.
The leakage across from the traditional Centrist voters has been compounded by a strongly euro-sceptic stance and by vigorous criticism of Finland's immigration policies.
At the same time, some working-class men who previously numbered among the supporters of the Left Alliance and the Social Democrats have began to lean towards the True Finns, as they have felt that they are not appreciated in their own groups.
The newest groups of supporters include small-scale entrepreneurs and members of the well-to-do middle class who now want to try something new.
The European Parliament Elections, in which Finland is one single large constituency, will be organised on Sunday June 7th 2009. For further information, see the link below.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Finnish candidates for European Parliament named (29.4.2009)
Finnish MEPs lash out at True Finns´ leader Timo Soini (23.4.2009)
True Finns´ Timo Soini tired of accusations of racism (19.2.2009)
Poll: True Finns overtaking Centre Party in Espoo (9.10.2008)
Ministry of Justice: European Elections 2009