The immigration-sceptic Finns Party is looking to work more closely with its ideological partner from Sweden, the nationalist Sweden Democrats.
The heightened solidarity was on show during the SuomiAreena public debate event in Pori on Thursday, when representatives of both parties participated in a joint discussion forum organised by the Finns Party.
The Sweden Democrats are riding on a wave of popularity at the moment. Back in June, news agency Reuters reported that backing for the party increased from 14.8 percent last November to reach 18.5 percent in June, hinting at an upset in parliamentary elections due in September.
However the agency noted that in spite of growing support, the party’s roots in Sweden’s white supremacy neo-Nazi movement have undermined its influence within the Swedish parliament, with some parliamentary groups ruling out working with the upstarts.
Party general secretary and MP Richard Jomshof said that now is the time for cool heads to prevail within the party. “We are doing our best to stay cool. We need to behave and be good politicians.”
Finns Party chair Jussi Halla-aho told Yle that the parties have recently intensified their cooperation.
“The previous leadership was worried about how this would affect the Finns Party’s image. They did not want to highlight the issues on which the popularity of the Sweden Democrats and the Finns Party were largely based,” Halla-aho told Yle.
“However we have the same political goals and programmes,” Halla-aho added.
Yle's latest political party barometer in July showed the Finns Party polling at just over 10 percent, up two percentage points from June, while its breakaway faction, the Blue Reform was only able to muster around one percent voter backing.
Parties targeting Europarliament elections
The Sweden Democrats and the Finns Party belong to the same group in the Nordic Council. At the beginning of July, the Sweden Democrats were admitted into the European Conservatives and Reformists group in the European Parliament.
The Finns Party and the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party, often described as far-right, are also part of the ECR group.
“Our influence on an international level will also increase when we are able to form larger groups. Our cooperation in the 2014 Europarliament elections was not carried out in the desired manner,” Halla-aho noted.
He added that at that time, the parties were concerned about their image and how it would affect cooperation with similar parties in other countries.
“We and the Sweden Democrats hope that the situation will be different after the next elections and we will have the largest and most influential group possible in the European Parliament.”