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Cultural heavyweight Jörn Donner relishes political comeback

Finnish culture icon Jörn Donner returns to Parliament next autumn to replace Swedish People’s Party MP Astrid Thors, who will take up a position in the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the OSCE. It will be Donner’s fourth campaign in the legislature.

Jörn Donner Päivän kasvo -ohjelman vieraana.
Jörn Donner Päivän kasvo -ohjelman vieraana. Image: Mikko Kuusisalo / Yle

Jörn Donner is used to being in the spotlight. Back in the 2011 parliamentary elections, the internationally-acclaimed film producer, director, actor, writer and intellectual ran for a seat as an independent candidate attached to the Swedish People’s Party, but missed entering the parliament by only a few dozen votes.

At the time, Donner said that he wanted to offer a counterpoint to the nationalistic and populist Finns Party. Donner told Yle that the situation is no longer as alarming as it was back in 2011.

“The Finns Party has changed in two years. They have moved more towards the direction of the Centre Party and have relaxed some of their views. The chairman Timo Soini is attempting to maintain a position that is not too radical,” Donner said, assessing the political landscape.

Donner speculated that the party will further soften its policy platform if it goes into government.

Up to speed in a month

Jörn Donner was a parliamentarian from 1987 – 1995 and in 2007, when he also stepped in to fill the seat of a lawmaker moving on to greener pastures. At the time he substituted for Swedish People’s Party MP Eva Biaudet, who also moved on to the OSCE.

Donner sees differences in both the parliamentary as well as the nationwide scenarios.

“In 1995 I’d had enough of parliament. I was tired then, now the situation is different. We are living with a Finland in crisis and through difficult times in the European Union,” he noted.

The parliamentary alumnus said he believes he will speedily learn the lay of the land in the parliament and will soon come to grips with the issues of the day.

“At the moment I am totally lost, but I will know things in maybe one month,” he declared, pointing out that he had also held seats in different parliamentary committees such as the Foreign Affairs Committee.

“It’s the economy, stupid!”

Donner charged that the current government’s economic policy had failed, however he still supports membership in the European Union and the eurozone.

“It’s the economy, stupid! The answers can’t be found among government ranks because there are too many divergent opinions. And I’m not convinced that the experts will find solutions either,” Donner said.

“Now I am a dyed-in-the-wool European. I want to defend European values, because they do have value, not just the economy. Finland’s situation is better compared to southern Europe, but it’s deteriorating daily,” he added.

As an MP for the Swedish People’s Party, Donner believes the group's status in the coalition government is negligible.

“They are voiceless “suits” in the government, which is run by the big parties -- the Social Democrats and the National Coalition. The SPP is a small player and it seems that they only pursue the interests of the Swedish speaking people – which in itself is not a bad goal, but it cannot be the basis for policy,” Donner observed.

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