As he launched a bid to challenge Finns Party chair Timo Soini for the party’s leadership, deputy head of the nationalist Suomen Sisu movement Riku Nevanpää says he wants to see tough action taken against Finnish media and civil servants.
Suomen Sisu describes itself as patriotic and nationalistic and opposes immigration and multiculturalism. Other prominent members of the group include Finns Party MEP Jussi Halla-aho, once sentenced for hate speech, MP Olli Immonen, who sparked heated national debate last year over a Facebook post in which he called for a "fight to the end" against the "nightmare called multiculturalism"; and James Hirvisaari, who was kicked out of the party after photographing and posting online an image of a friend making a Nazi salute in the Finnish Parliament.
Nevanpää also sits on the board of the Finns Party’s Satakunta chapter and recently outlined his position on issues such as immigration and asylum seekers in a Facebook post.
"Why is it that in Finland a green-left putrid loafer journalist can accuse [others] of hate speech, ethnic agitation and political bias? Why are these issues being silenced? Is it high time to begin purging the media?" Nevanpää wrote.
Nevanpää originally used the term "political racism", reflecting a tendency in Finland to liberally and inaccurately use the term racism to suggest discrimination, for example, in the expression "age racism", which in English would be rendered as ageism.
The aspirant to the Finns Party chair also wrote that Finland has more civil servants than productive workers. He used this argument as the basis for his call to also cull the ranks of the civil service, saying that public officials are enslaving Finns with their legislative proposals.
Throwing down the gauntlet for Soini
The leadership hopeful also used Facebook to publicise his bid to unseat Soini as the leader of the nationalistic Finns Party. He declared that he aimed to steer the party into a "patriotic course change", noting that the party had joined a government whose agenda was based on empty words.
"The party needs reform and a new leader, a leader who will not bow to anyone other than its own rank and file and voters," the upstart wrote.
Populist incumbent Timo Soini has not yet indicated whether or not he intends to stay on as party chair. He has led the immigration-sceptic party since 1997 and has seen it rise from being a fringe party to its current position as a member of Juha Sipilä’s Centre Party-led coalition government.
Party Secretary Riikka Slunga-Poutsalo said that any party member can contest leadership elections, including "on the fly" during the party’s annual convention.
"During the congress you need one person to propose [a candidate] and two others to second the move. After that the matter is put to the vote," she explained.
Conspiracy theories and football-phobia
Nevanpää has also taken to Facebook to speculate that the terrorist attacks that took place in the US on September 11, 2001 were engineered by the US armed forces. He also expressed the view that football should be banned.
"Football this, football that. Kicking a ball should be legally prohibited. Europe is in the grip of a serious refugee problem and people are only talking about football," the local politician wrote.
Nevanpää’s views on football directly contradict those of party chair Timo Soini, a football fan and an avid supporter of third-tier English soccer team Millwall FC.
Nevanpää also took a swipe at Pokémon Go!, the augmented reality game that has taken much of the world by storm. He expressed disbelief that adults even have time to play the game.
Nevanpää’s extreme and blunt views on immigration and Islam have also earned him a time-out from his position on the board of the local party group. He has recently returned to his position at leadership meetings.
On Tuesday head of the Satakunta party group Anssi Joutsenlahti condemned Nevanpää's Facebook posts about purging the media and civil service. He told Yle that Nevanpää's comments represent his personal views and not those of the party group. He added that the would-be party chair had crossed the limit of acceptable behaviour and noted that he "doesn't always think about what he writes in social media."