Friday’s All Points North podcast tackled what seemed to be the start of political silly season, when parties trot out their rhetoric in the run-up to a major election.
Centre Party chair Juha Sipilä and Jussi Halla-aho, who replaced Foreign Minister Timo Soini as head of the nationalist Finns Party were first out of the blocks with comments they made on immigration last weekend.
Sipilä claimed that most of the asylum seekers entering Europe in recent years are economic migrants, a claim that subsequent Yle research undercut. Meanwhile Halla-aho declared in a speech to party faithful that the Finnish state should only concern itself with "its own customer base".
Reacting to the comments, APN special guest Tuomas Enbuske noted the similarities in messaging and said that Sipilä comments appeared to be a shift to the right, something he described as "sad".
"I think it’s sad because if I was a racist, why would I vote for a lite version of racists? I’m sure Sipilä was trying to please everybody -- left and right -- and that usually doesn’t work," Enbuske declared.
He said that political parties in Finland also have to position themselves carefully during election campaigns because it is not clear in advance whom they will have to work with to form a coalition government.
"Every party in Finland is in panic because you never know what kind of coalition you’re going to have after the election. Because we don’t have the same kind of system as in Sweden where they have block politics where you have Left and Social Democrats and Greens on the same side and the right-wing parties on the other side,” he explained.
Winning elections the only incentive
As far as the provocative columnist is concerned this situation means that the political debate in Finland is very different from what takes place in Sweden.
"Everyone has to think of the fact that you never know what sort of government is going to happen after the election. So that makes our political debate much more stupid here than in Sweden for instance," he added.
To illustrate his point, Enbuske pointed to an example of concrete proposals that are debated in Sweden but not in Finland.
"In Sweden people actually say something there. They suggest things, they make budgets before elections – 'That would be our budget if we are chosen' -- and nobody in Finland does that."
He concluded that there are no incentives in Finland to improve the level of politics.
"The only incentive is to win the following election. And usually politicians become honest only when they announce they will not be participating in the next elections."