The results of the European elections in Finland confirm that peak far-right populism is upon us, as already evident in the national elections held in April. Which is to say that the Finns Party could only muster a slight gain from 13 to 14 percent, retaining two out of the country’s 13 seats in the European Parliament.
The moderate centre-right parties suffered a setback, with the Centre Party losing 6 percent of their previous share of the vote. Shortly after May’s election, the party’s president Juha Sipilä resigned as prime minister. The party also lost a seat in the European Parliament, which was picked up by the Greens in second place, who increased their share of the vote from 10 to 16 percent.
Support for the moderate rightwing National Coalition Party dropped slightly, though the party held on to their three seats. It can now be considered the outright winner of the EP election in Finland after having gone head to head with the Center Party last time round. Nonetheless, the margins between the five largest parties are extremely small, with the Social Democrats just ahead of The Finns and just behind the Greens. Finally, the liberal rightwing Swedish People’s Party and the Left Alliance of democratic socialists retained one seat each.
The Finns Party dispatched two of their most incendiary politicians, Laura Huhtasaari and Teuvo Hakkarainen, to the European Parliament. Both represent the party’s hardline anti-immigrant flank. Huhtasaari, a creationist, has repeatedly defended racist comments made by her party affiliates, relentlessly underlined that human rights do not apply to terrorists and opposed same-sex marriages and feminism. During his time as an MP, Hakkarainen has been convicted of both incitement against an ethnic group and sexual assault.
On the other hand, former chairman of the Social Democratic Party Eero Heinäluoma also becomes an MEP this year, after having widely been viewed as the silent power broker within his party. Popular former journalist and Left Alliance MP Silvia Modig suffered a surprising defeat in the national election, but her party rallied around her in the EP elections, allowing the openly gay politician to continue her political career. Both Green MEPs Heidi Hautala and Ville Niinistö are former party leaders.
This article is published in association with Eurozine.
Eurozine describes itself as “a network of European cultural journals, linking up more than 80 partner journals as well as associated magazines and institutions from nearly all European countries.”