The Finns Party established its own dedicated study centre, named Pekasus, in January 2015. Party Secretary Riikka Slunga-Poutsalo said the impetus for the centre rose from a clear demand. Of Finland’s handful of larger political parties, the Finns Party is the last to found its own policy institute.
“Finns Party members want to learn things, like how Finland’s municipalities operate and how to take advantage of conference technology. There has been a real longing for a study centre of our own,” she says.
Some 350 people have already participated in Pekasus-hosted instruction at its Helsinki headquarters and at the Rauhala resort in Central Finland.
History of the Finnish working class
Pekasus Rector Lasse Lehtinen led a field trip on Friday as part of his course on Finnish history. The trip introduced the participants to the history of Finnish labour at the Luostarimäki Handicrafts Museum and the Turku Castle.
Lehtinen is a deputy judge, a member of the Kannus city council and a Doctor of Laws. His influence on the course content is easy to see.
“We have arranged courses on family law, organisational work and municipal operations. In the autumn we will begin new ideology seminars that will focus on the Finns Party’s specific policy ideologies,” he says.
Two of the policy principles in question may not come as a surprise to people familiar with the Finns Party’s platform.
“Immigration and refugees are central themes, just as they are in Finns Party policy in general,” says Lehtinen.
Centre plays no part in party policy decisions
Who will lead the ideology seminars is still unknown. Pekasus has no input in the party’s agenda-building, as the party headquarters handles that exclusively.
The purpose of Pekasus is to train the organisational representatives of the Finns Party and help the party’s ideology gain a stronger foothold.
For the time being, however, the party does not have its sights on creating its own, more established learning institution, choosing not to go the route of Finland’s other heavyweight parties. The Centre Party founded the Alkio College near Jyväskylä in the mid-1940s and the Social Democrats have their own Worker’s Academy (Työväen Akatemia), established in 1924 in Kauniainen. Both now function as so-called folk high schools, or adult education institutes.
“We don’t feel a need to go that far, especially as it is difficult to get a founding permit for such an institution,” says Lehtinen.
The Finns Party also has no plans to found any youth or children’s organisations under their name.