New Finns Party leader Purra seeks tougher line on immigration

The nationalist party leader called for stricter rules on family reunification and gaining citizenship.

Purra, whose candidacy was backed by Halla-aho, said she would not change the nationalist party's policies, but aimed to express them more clearly. Image: Jorge Gonzalez / Yle

Newly elected Finns Party chair Riikka Purra laid out her agenda in a speech to a party congress on Sunday afternoon. A day earlier, she was chosen to succeed Jussi Halla-aho, who announced his surprise resignation in June after four years at the helm.

Purra, whose candidacy was backed by Halla-aho, said she would not change the nationalist party's policies, but aimed to express them more clearly.

In her policy speech, Purra said that the party seeks a tightening of immigration policy.

She proposed reducing the number of asylum seekers to zero and making stricter rules for family reunification. Purra also said that the conditions for obtaining citizenship should also be tightened.

No "friends or enemies" among other parties

Purra reiterated her earlier assertion that the party would only join a future government that is willing to toughen immigration policy. She added that her party would not have any "friends or enemies" among other parties, but would "cooperate when it is profitable and beneficial".

"Any party that is not ready to tighten Finnish immigration policy is not ready to be in the same government as the Finns Party," she said.

Purra said that she wanted the party to be nationalist and patriotic rather than populist.

According to Purra, the party wants to change the legislation on hate speech, which has sparked charges against many party members and officials over the years.

At a press conference on Sunday morning, Purra commented on the judgments and charges of the Finns Party elected a day earlier as deputy chairs.

Sebastian Tynkkynen, elected third deputy chair, has been convicted of incitement against an ethnic group, which Mauri Peltokangas, who was elected second deputy chair, has recently been charged with the same offence.

According to Purra, it seems that when Finns Party politicians speak out, they often run into trouble with the Prosecutor General, without mentioning Raija Toiviainen by name. She dismissed a reporter's question as to whether it was appropriate for a lawmaker to comment on decisions by the independent judiciary.

NCP now only major party with all-male chairs

In a victory speech on Saturday, Purra said she intended for the party to win the 2023 parliamentary election, and that she would be ready to become prime minister. However, she said the party would only form a coalition government with parties committed to a tougher stance on immigration.

Purra received nearly 60 percent of votes at the party congress in Seinäjoki, western Finland.

The party has consistently been one of Finland's three largest for the past several years.

Purra, 44, is the party's fourth leader since it was founded in 1995, and the first woman.

With her, the other main opposition bloc, the National Coalition Party (NCP), is the only major Finnish party that has never had a female leader.