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Finns Party seeks to "take care of only Finnish citizens"

The nationalist party's chair and convicted hate speech offender Jussi Halla-aho says "juxtaposition is exactly what is needed".

Perussuomalaisten puheenjohtaja Jussi Halla-aho Perussuomalaisten mediatilaisuudessa maanantaina 13. elokuuta.
Finns Party chair Jussi Halla-aho on August 13. Image: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva

Party head Jussi Halla-aho says his Finns Party is different from all of the other political parties in Finland's political arena in that it concerns itself only with citizens of the country.

"We want a society in which as many people as possible are able to look after themselves and take responsibility for their own well-being, in addition to taking care of those who are unable to do this on their own. This is economically feasible only if our customer base is limited to our own nation," he said.

Halla-aho outlined the policy principles of Finland's nationalist and Eurosceptic political party at its party congress in the southern city of Lahti this weekend.

He called for "priorities to be renewed".

"For some reason, dividing people into camps has started to be looked down upon in the public debate. This juxtaposition is exactly what is needed when a rivalry exists," he said.

In August, Halla-aho said that his party sought to end what he called "humanitarian immigration". His presentation on Saturday in Lahti did not provide any details into how his party planned to do this.

In 2012, the Finnish Supreme Court toughened a sentence and 30-day fine imposed by a lower court for blog posts dating back to 2008, when the controversial MP likened Islam to pedophilia and said Somalis are predisposed to stealing and living off welfare.

While the lower court sentenced Halla-aho for religious defamation and dismissed racial incitement charges, the Supreme Court ruled that his writings constituted inciting hatred against an ethnic group. The court also found that hate speech does not enjoy the protection afforded to freedom of speech and increased the sentence against Halla-aho to a 50-day fine.

People know what is good for them

He did reveal his thoughts on the state's relationship to its citizens, however.

"The task of decision-makers is to solve and prevent those kinds of problems that prevent ordinary citizens from being able to concentrate on their own lives. The Finns Party believes in independent, free and thinking citizens, who know for themselves what is good for them," Halla-aho explained.

He said his party's response to Finland's stubborn deficit would be a campaign of strict austerity, with public expenditures the first on the chopping block. He claimed at the party congress that Finland's economy could be balanced easily if it would only make things easier for business owners.

He suggested easing bureaucracy and developing Finnish taxation "in line with the Estonia model". Tax relief for middle-income earners and on fuel would increase the demand for services, he argued.

"These kinds of tax cuts are an investment that pays for itself, as more and more people gain employment and don't need social benefits," Halla-aho said.

He also said that his Finns Party takes environmental and emissions matters seriously, but is not ready to set any targets for reductions.

"If Finland sets goals that are too ambitious, it will result in industry leaving for China and India."

Yle's last party support poll from late July-early August showed that 8.7 percent of the respondents supported the Finns Party.

Edit: Updated at 2.49pm on 2 September to provide background and details on Jussi Halla-aho's hate speech conviction and related Supreme Court ruling in 2012.

Updated at 2.53pm to link to lower court ruling of 2010.

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