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Finns Party to sack youth wing's vice chair for declaring himself a fascist

Toni Jalonen called himself an ethnic nationalist, a traditionalist and a fascist at a meeting in Estonia on Sunday.

Jussi Halla-aho
Finns Party chair Jussi Halla-aho. Image: Emmi Korhonen / Lehtikuva

The Finns Party plans on ousting its youth wing's second vice chair, Toni Jalonen, due to statements he made at a conference in Tallinn, Estonia on Sunday in which he declared himself a fascist.

The event was organised by an Estonian conservative nationalist youth organisation. Videos of Jalonen's speech began appearing on social media towards the end of the weekend.

Finns Party secretary, Simo Grönroos, confirmed to Yle that a process of dismissal will be launched.

"There is no place for such acts in the movement. We will address this at the next party board meeting," Grönroos said.

Finns Party chair Jussi Halla-aho said he has not seen the whole video that Jalonen posted, but said he didn't consider his speech "very surprising in relation to his earlier output."

Halla-aho said the party does not accept such statements from its youth organisation.

"No, and over the past two years, the party has repeatedly made it clear to the youth organisation that fascist and national socialist policies have no place in the Finns Party. Neither do we approve of even independent youth groups making such statements" in the name of the Finns Party, Halla-aho said.

The party chair also denied the Finns Party having link to fascism.

"The Finns Party has no more a special connection to fascism than any other party. The party leadership has made it clear, both internally and publicly, that fascist and national socialist policies have no place in the Finns Party," Halla-aho said.

Jalonen, however, told news service STT that he stands by his statement of being a fascist. He said his words represented him and not the Finns Party youth organisation.

Youth wing rules to get stricter

"The party does not accept such activities from its youth wing or even independent youth organisation that use the Finns Party logo," Halla-aho said.

Halla-aho said that the youth wing was in the process of changing its rules to link members of the organisation and the party.

"Members of the party would have the opportunity to intervene if the organisation is making unacceptable statements on behalf of the party," Halla-aho said.

The Finns Party Youth wing is planning to have a general assembly to discuss the reform of its rules. Halla-aho said the party will determine its relationship with the youth organisation based on the solutions it reaches.

Finns Party Youth chair: "We don't promote fascism"

On Monday the chairman of the party's youth wing, Asseri Kinnunen, did not condemn Jalonen's statement, even though he criticised it.

He told Yle that Jalonen's statement does not represent the official position of the organisation.

"It was a careless and stupid statement. We are a nationalist movement that influences parliament and democracy," Kinnunen said.

Last summer the Ministry of Education and Culture announced it was terminating government funding of 115,000 euros for the Finns Party's youth wing last year due to violating the objectives of the Youth Act 2017.

The youth Finns Party group had come under fire for an offensive tweet it posted and later deleted on its official account. The post depicted a dark-skinned family accompanied by the text, "Vote for the Finns Party if you don't want Finland's future to look like this."

On Monday, the Ministry of Education and Culture told STT it is planning to look into whether Jalonen's statments would lead to action of some kind.

The youth group is slated to receive a state grant of 91,000 euros this year.

Despite such controversies, the Finns Party continues to hold a lead among voters, according to Yle's latest political support polls.

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