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All Points North #44: Platforms, promises and platitudes - Finns Party

Can the populist Finns Party become a contender for government formation talks? APN considers whether its nationalist rhetoric is resonating with voters.

Audio: Yle News

The Finns Party has become as well known for controversy as it has for what it calls its scepticism of immigration and the EU. A recent Yle poll shows the populist party gaining momentum in the run-up to the April general election.

The party appears to have bounced back from the internal division that saw the Blue Reform breakaway to return to the Juha Sipilä administration, which said it was not prepared to work with a Finns Party led by immigration hardliner Jussi Halla-aho.

APN looked at the pitched battle for poll position with political commentator Sini Korpinen and AFP journalist Sam Kingsley. Taloustutkimus researcher Tuomas Turja also shared his analysis on the party's 13.3-percent polling in Yle's latest political survey. According to Turja, the Finns Party is known for rapidly gaining ground ahead of parliamentary elections to post big gains among voters at the ballot.

Finns Party among the "big three"?

Korpinen agreed, saying that in her view, the nationalist group is still to reach its peak and will continue to improve in the polls until the election. She predicted that it would not be far-fetched for them to even rise to the ranks of the "big three" after the vote. Journalist Sam Kingsley agreed, noting that the "immigration-sceptic" party may have been provided with "a gift" in the form of heavy media coverage of suspected sexual abuse in the northern city of Oulu.

Kingsley also referred to a recent Turku University study indicating that nowadays Finns Party voters are more educated, middle-income earners worried that they have more to lose and are consequently concerned about immigration. Both pundits agreed that if the party does end up in government, as chair Halla-aho has said is his wish, it will likely struggle to maintain "street cred" as it did during its previous turn in the Sipilä administration.

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The All Points North podcast is a weekly look at what's going on in Finland. Subscribe via iTunes (and leave a review!), listen on Spotify and Yle Areena or find it on your favourite podcatching app or via our RSS feed.

This week's podcast episode was presented by Denise Wall and Mark B. Odom, with additional reporting by Denise. The sound engineer was Joonatan Kotila.

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