Soini had to explain the rules of the game to his party’s new MP Teuvo Hakkarainen. Soini emphasised to Hakkarainen that he now has to be more careful in his language.
In an interview with the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, Hakkarainen complained about “Negros” arriving at Finland’s borders and warned that minarets would arise all over Helsinki and disturb people’s peace with calls to prayer. He also imitated a call to prayer.
“I have talked with Hakkarainen and I hope that such use of language does not occur again,” Soini stated.
Hakkarainen himself explained his choice of words by saying that he was from the countryside.
“We talk more frankly in the country. I haven’t really got a handle on this and so I made a slight mistake in my choice of words. One learns from mistakes,” he said.
Other MPs concerned
Long-standing MPs have already raised questions about the True Finns’ role in the parliament’s committees that deal with international issues. The True Finns have received leadership over the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Defence Committee and the Administration Committee, which is responsible for immigration issues.
While Timo Soini himself is leading the Foreign Affairs Committee—at least temporarily—the new chair of the Defence Committee, Jussi Niinisto, has voiced ideas of reclaiming Karelia, a region partially ceded by Finland to Russia after World War II.
“Committee chairs must be able to pursue Finland’s position abroad. The biggest question is how the new MPs will balance between their own views and the stances approved by the parliament,” says Pekka Haavisto of the Green League.
Haavisto is a member of both the Foreign Affairs and the Defence Committees. He points out that the True Finns’ remarkable election victory gives them the right to a significant number of committee places. Haavisto compares the situation to one under the previous parliament, when a veteran MP from the National Coalition Party, Pertti Salolainen, led the Foreign Affairs Committee.
“Salolainen had a long career and experience in diplomacy, so the True Finns have a long way to go. This will be quite a learning experience for all.”