here was a suprise result in the Finnish parliamentary election in April, with nationalist party ’True Finns’ making astonishing gains. The eurosceptic party saw its number of Parliamentary seats soar from 5 to 39, a 5 fold increase from the previous election in 2007. The result makes the True Finns the third largest political party in the 200-strong Finnish Parliament, behind the conservative NCP and Social Democrats.
Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi tendered her resignation after Easter and will likely be replaced by NCP leader Jyrki Katainen, who is leading the coalition talks. The True Finns were invited to the discussions but it is likely that the party’s eurosceptic and anti-immigration stance will be a cause of conflict. Party chairman Timo Soini has claimed that the True Finns « are not extremists so you can sleep safely » but his party’s shock result has caused European leaders and media to sit up and take notice. Finland, unlike some other Eurozone countries, has a power of veto in EU talks on bailouts for countries in financial difficulties. There are concerns that the formation of an ’anti-bailout’ Finnish government could stall a financial package for Portugal and any countries in need of the EU’s assistance in the future.
Mr Katainen, who is also the former finance minister, has attempted to soothe these concerns but until coalition discussions are concluded it is uncertain how this fundamental disagreement between the main political parties will be resolved. What is clear however, is that the True Finns plan to ride the populist wave to push their eurosceptic agenda for as long as possible. As for the 19% who supported them, it is unlikely that even they fully comprehended the dramatic wider implications their vote for the ’True Finns’ would have.