Green Party MP Ozan Yanarhttp://www.hs.fi/haku/?search-term=ozan+yanar has condemned the Soldiers Of Odin street patrols movement, calling them ultra right-wing racists.
Speaking on HSTV's English-language current affairs show Newsmakers, Yanar is also critical of the way the government coalition has handled their reaction to the vigilante patrols.
"I'm really angry to our government" says Yanar, over mixed messages about the Soldiers of Odin. "A minister says something, and another minister says something really opposite, I think it should be crystal clear, that we don't want any racist Neo-Nazis in our streets, patrolling, and saying they are making this country more safe for our women".
Over the last few months, Soldiers of Odin patrols have begun in several Finnish cities, ostensibly to offer protection to women who might feel unsafe or intimidated by any Muslim migrants. Critics say they only increase tensions on the streets, and make the likelihood of violence more probable. Senior Finnish police officials have said the Soldiers of Odin are not doing anything illegal by merely walking around.
"Soldiers of Odin is a racist patrol, who want to have a white Finland, whatever that means" says Yanar, who is originally from Turkey but came to Finland age 14. "I don't think I belong to their white Finland perspective, and they also criticize people who are normal Finns, native Finns, who don't agree with them on the immigration issue" he adds.
Iimmigration is one subject that has helped boost the Greens in recent polls, according to Yanar, while conversely contributing to the slide in support for the Finns Party, who lost around 50% of their popularity since the last election. Yanar, who was elected to parliament in 2015 after working in student politics, is happy about the latest poll numbers that show the Greens increasing to around 11%, which he says is the result of many months of visibility, including last summer when they were at the forefront of the 'welcome immigrants' campaign; and during the autumn when they were vocal in opposing government austerity cuts.
"What we are doing is to give credible options against the government's cold policies, and I think it's nice, it's appealing" says the 28 year old, who thinks the Finns Party politicians became "arrogant" when they got to parliament, and became part of the government coalition, after many years in opposition.
"As a party who spoke about ordinary people against the elite, that kind of rhetoric they had, suddenly they were the cutters" he says.
"I remember the day when the first opinion poll with the Finns party crashed [...] in one month they lost 4 and a half percent. And I remember the Finns Party MPs, they were really surprised" says Yanar, giving some insight to what he experienced. "Before, they had this attitude in parliament that 'yeah we can cut whatever, we can cut from whoever, the unemployed, the elderly'".
The Finns Party remains the second largest in parliament with 38 seats. They are part of the three-party coalition lead by Prime Minister Juha Sipilä'shttp://www.hs.fi/haku/?search-term=juha+sipila's Centre Party, and including the National Coalition Party of Alexander Stubbhttp://www.hs.fi/haku/?search-term=alexander+stubb.
Another issue in Finland this week that resonated with Green Party activists is a new wolf cull, that would cut Finland's grey wolf population by around 20%. Although grey wolves are protected in Europe, Finland has approved the controversial kill order over fears about the animals, and poaching, in some parts of the country.
"These issues should be resolved by other measures than killing the wolves" says Yanar. "To kill around 22 to 25 percent doesn't sound like a good environment policy to me". He cites animal activists as saying the right amount of wolves in Finland, to optimize genetic diversity, would be around 500 animals.
Although Yanar concedes that the Green Party gets its support mostly from urban areas, and not from the countryside, he says that animal rights "are one of the top priorities" for his party. "Im more this kind of economic policy MP [...] but we have a lot of people who are experts on these [animal management] issues".