Nordic populism

In Finland, members of populist parties are allowed to say basically anything, says Ann-Cathrine Jungar .

Ann-Cathrine Jungar

Ann-Cathrine Jungar calls for stronger action from the other parties against the party known as “True Finns”.

Ann-Cathrine Jungar is docent and senior lecturer in social sciences at Södertörn University in Sweden. She is also director of studies at the Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES). She will talk about True Finns and Finnish populism at the CEREN workshop “Closing off the Folkhem? Right-wing Populism and the Politics of Xenophobia in the North” on 15 December 2011.

Ann-Cathrine Jungar, originally from Jakobstad, Finland, will discuss populist and anti-immigration parties in Finland in comparison to the other Nordic countries.

“I’m particularly interested in the kinds of ideas and ideologies these parties harbour.”

Jungar sees True Finns’ success in the parliamentary elections last spring as a result of the party being able to mobilise voters, for example, around the immigration issue.

“If you’re going to give your vote to a populist party, you’re bound to think that immigration is an important question. The True Finns’ success is grounded in their ability to play in many different arenas: it’s about the EU, about Finns and immigrants, and also the financial crisis. The outcome of the elections was favourable for the True Finns because they were able to mobilise voters around a number of issues.”

According to Jungar, the other parties’ actions towards True Finns will play an extremely important role.

“They have to regain their voters. The other parties have to some extent abdicated, which favours the populist parties. In Finland, the parties haven’t engaged in policy-focused EU debates; all parties have basically held the same opinion.”

In Jungar’s opinion, the parties ought to express their own views more and discuss ideologies and welfare, and what kind of society they would like to see. People feel anxious about the future – and you can’t really blame them.

“When you open the newspaper and read about the euro and the economy, you can’t help but wonder where we are heading.”

Jungar noted a very lax attitude in the other parties towards True Finns during the elections.

“They opened the door for cooperation, and the way Finnish political debate is structured, people are allowed to say absolutely anything. That’s a distressing trend. Opinions like the ones expressed by Teuvo Hakkarainen would be totally unacceptable in Sweden,” says Jungar.

CEREN workshop on Thursday, 15 December 2011:
“Closing off the Folkhem? Right-wing Populism and the Politics of Xenophobia in the North” »»

Text: Nadine Aschan
Photo: Ann-Cathrine Jungar
Translation: AAC Global
University of Helsinki, digital communications

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