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Finns Party leader hopeful Halla-aho calls for stronger 'Finland first' policy

Finns Party members are due to vote for a new party leader this June. Jussi Halla-aho, a front-runner in the upcoming chairman election, would decline a role in government and focus on immigration policy.

MEP Jussi Halla-aho was a guest in Yle's Ykkösaamu morning show on Saturday. Image: Yle

The race for Finns Party leadership heats up, as members of the party are due to vote for a new leader to replace the incumbent, Foreign Minister Timo Soini, this summer. 

In an interview with Yle on Saturday, MEP Jussi Halla-aho, one of the front-runners in the upcoming election, said he would as party leader shift the party’s focus to themes important to its member, such as immigration. 

“The Finns party leadership should prioritize issues in a similar way as our supporters seemingly do. Immigration policy and a kind of ‘Finland first’ mentality should have a stronger presence in our public output,” Halla-aho said.

The party should also move away from building its identity around one person, Halla-aho said.

“I want to develop the Finns Party into a normal party, where internal disputes are not shunned and open, even critical discussion is encouraged. That is the only way we can ensure the party can evolve.”

Halla-aho sees his candidacy as a duty of sorts.

“The Finns have relatively few politicians who are known nationwide,” Halla-aho said.

Halla-aho: Soini could not continue as Foreign Minister

Timo Soini’s announcement to step down from party leadership stirred speculation that the Finns would leave government if Halla-aho were chosen as his replacement. Halla-aho straightens out rumours by stating that if chosen, he would keep the party in government, but decline a role for himself. This, he rationalises, is because he is not a member of parliament and wants to steer clear of potential political manipulation.

Friction with the National Coalition Party is another factor deterring him from seeking a position in government. 

“If a person like me, who clearly is a bit provocative, would join government, I would face so much resistance from others it would be difficult to push our own agenda,” Halla-aho estimates.

Soini has stated he would like to continue his role as Foreign Minister, but Halla-aho said he would not allow it. This, he says, is because keeping Soini in such a high-profile position would create confusion about who to approach in party-related matters.

Other candidates for Finns Party chairmanship are Minister for European Affairs, Culture and Sport Sampo Terho, Members of Parliament Leena Meri and Veera Ruoho, as well as Riku Nevanpää and Raimo Rautiola.

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