Former presidential candidate and newly-minted Greens Party chair Pekka Haavisto has rolled back comments in which he appeared to float the possibility of cooperating with the nationalist Finns Party in government following a general election due next April.
Haavisto’s about-face follows condemnation from other Greens in reaction to his comments reported in the agro-lobby-backed Maaseudun Tulevaisuus (MT) paper on Friday. Haavisto reportedly said that he would not rule out government cooperation with the nationalist party led by immigration hardliner Jussi Halla-aho.
However several Green party heavyweights roundly criticised Haavisto’s comments. Former party chair Ville Niinistö took to Twitter to point out that the Greens could not agree on a government programme with the Finns Party because of their diametrically-opposed views on human dignity.
"No one should be demonised, but everyone’s human rights and equality should be defended. That is a real goal. And that is why it is in practice impossible for the Greens to formulate government policy with the Finns Party. We defend human rights - always," he tweeted
Greens MP Emma Kari, who vied for party chair when Niinistö stepped down, also declared that there was no basis for the Greens and the Finns Party to cooperate. She noted that the parties were far apart on the issue of equality.
"The Greens will not compromise on human rights or equality. Our principle is that everything must be discussed. The views of the Greens and the Finns Party on human equality are however so divergent that there is no foundation for government cooperation," she noted on Twitter.
MP: It's all about human rights
Parliamentary group chair Olli-Poika Parviainen also chimed in, saying that it was "evident" that there was no room for the Greens and the Finns Party in the same government.
"Let it be known that [newspaper] headlines can say anything and no political party should be demonised, it is evident that there is no room for the Greens in any government with the Finns Party. The differences on matters of substance and values are too great. It would not have worked in 2015 and the since then the Finns Party has only become more radicalised," Parviainen wrote.
MP Outi Alanko-Kahiluoto, one of the frontrunners to replace ex-chair Touko Aalto at the helm of the party, also weighed in citing the parties’ opposing value systems. "It all turns on human rights. If the Finns Party had respect for human rights, the Greens could consider government cooperation. But that is not the case," she tweeted.
Rovaniemi city councillor and deputy chair of the Green Party leadership delegation Miikka Keränen ventured to say that the Greens and the Finns Party would not even make it to the government formation negotiating table let along cooperate in the same administration.
"In my opinion the Greens and the Finns Party could not even sit at the same negotiating table to form a government, let alone serve in the same administration. Our party leadership will decide on forming a government and as a deputy chair I can guarantee this: we will not see that kind of government cooperation."
On Friday, Haavisto told MT that there is still time before parliamentary elections due next spring and that party platforms might change before that. He said that government cooperation is what matters, not the names of the parties involved.
However following the backlash from within his own party, the Greens chair took to Twitter and Facebook to modify his previous comments. He wrote that the Greens would only cooperate with parties that are ready to commit to its values, such as protection for the environment, human rights and equality.
He added that during the current parliamentary term, the Finns Party have put up the greatest opposition to the objectives of the Greens, and as a result, he said that the Finns Party’s current platform precluded the possibility of the two parties working together in the same government.