There were no swastikas seen on campaign posters during the recent Parliamentary elections. However, there could be in the next one. The two-year process for the National Socialist Workers' Party of Finland to gain official legal status has been, however, a complicated one.
The group's original, openly racist party rules have been modified, and it has relinquished the use of a parallel German name. After the revisions, party regulations are innocuous enough to be used by a sewing circle.
Even so, the national Register of Associations has had doubts about the use of "National Socialist" in the party's name.
"Statements of evaluation have been requested about this issue. A decision is expected from the Board of Patents and Registration in May," says Jyrki Ahdeoja of the Register of Associations.
Statements have been requested from authorities including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is charged with interpreting Finland's international treaty obligations. Finland's post-WWII peace treaty included a ban on fascist and paramilitary organisations. For this reasons, groups such as Lotta Svärd, a voluntary auxiliary paramilitary organisation for women, were disbanded.
The Foreign Ministry has not found a reason to forbid the registration of a national socialist party.
"Nothing of a fascist nature was found. We tried to look at how the the organisation's activities are written in its regulations," explains Päivi Kaukoranta, Director General of the Legal Services section of the Finnish Foreign Ministry.
Opposed to non-white immigrants
According to the chairman of the National Socialists, Pekka Luoma, the party's concept is "the people and the fatherland".
"The people is the same as Finland's native, white population. We are struggling against immigration, especially against coloured immigrants," says Luoma.
The groups claims a few dozen Nazi activists around the country. The chairman is a 40 year-old unemployed family man from Satakunta. If permission to register as an association is forthcoming, a drive will be started to gather the signatures of the 5,000 supporters needed to register to take part in elections.
Swastika and Führer
"If a party's leader wants to a Führer, then so what?" says Pekka Luoma.
The party is particularly selective about membership. People of foreign origin have no business being under the swastika.
"If they are not related or do not have blood ties to the Finnish people, the party does not accept them."
Luoma explains that Swedish-speaking Finns and indigenous Sami people fulfil the criteria for membership, but he doesn't take a stand on the matter of membership for Finnish Roma.
The Lotta Svärd was approved for reestablishment only as a cultural organisation. A Nazi Party is possible in Finland under its international treaties. This is due to global thinking that began in the 90s.
"The freedom of association is a right recognized in very key human rights agreements and in the practice of human rights courts it is established that very few restrictions can be placed upon it," points out the Foreign Ministry's Päivi Kaukoranta.