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Finns Party chair Hallo-aho seeks stronger budget hawk profile

Finns Party chair Jussi Halla-aho hopes to gain support for his anti-immigrant agenda by pointing out the financial costs to the state. He says Finland doesn't need foreign labour.

piti poliittisen tilannekatsauksen Perussuomalaisten puoluevaltuuston kokouksessa.
Jussi Halla-aho on 19 May 2018 Image: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva

MEP Jussi Halla-aho, chair of Finland's populist Finns Party, took his party in a more hard line direction after being elected leader last summer, causing several key members to defect and form a new party, the Blue Reform. In this weekend's party congress, the Finns Party leader was clearly looking to profile the remnants of the party that Timo Soini built as the only responsible guardians of the country's coffers.

He accused the centre-right coalition government and the leading opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) of engaging in "sloppy" financial policy, with sharp words for SDP chair Antti Rinne's May Day proposal to start giving pensioners 100 euros more per month.

"Everyone knows that once the elections have past, they won't actually go through with it," Halla-aho said in his Saturday address to the party members.

Empty promises

He says many people have also advised him to stop "making so much racket" about immigration and talk more about pensions and state-granted benefits.

"Sure, I could be another singer in Rinne's choir, and make pleas for more money for everyone so things will be great, but I don't like to lie and abhor deceit," he said.

Halla-aho told the Finns Party faithful on Saturday that taxpayers' money shouldn't be used for "trendy issues" like immigrant upkeep.

"We don't pursue a hard line out of malice. We do it because otherwise we will not have the proper conditions to practice soft politics when it is needed," he said.

He is not in favour of easing restrictions on non-EU and EEA workers to Finland, saying that foreign workers will not contribute to the nation's tax income or save pension funds, as some proponents of the move have argued.

"The labour availability consideration should be made considerably stricter than it is now," was his stand.

Japan as a model

He says Finland should just make peace with the fact that its population is diminishing and growing grey, like they have done in Japan, for example.

"In Japan, they want to stay Japanese. They are not trying to solve their problems with immigrants, even if they would have plenty to choose from in Asia. They have accepted the fact that there will be far fewer people in Japan in the future," he says.

He says Finland should follow in Japan's footsteps and be investing in technology, robotics and more efficient work methods to address the problem. He doesn't believe that added immigration would improve eroding doctor-patient relationships in Finland, because too many of the newcomers would not be able to achieve income levels on par with the Finns and end up relying on state benefits.

The Finns Party chair also expressed his doubts that the government's proposed social and health care reform will end up saving any money.

"Their intention isn't to improve our health services. It is to open the taxpayers' wallets to the multinational health care giants that often don't even pay their taxes to Finland," Halla-aho said.

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