Members of the Finns Party are due to vote for a new chairman in June. The battle for party leadership will likely be between two strong candidates, Finns Party parliamentary group chair Sampo Terho and MEP Jussi Halla-aho.
Halla-aho’s candidacy has raised speculation about whether his supporters will rush to join the party in time for the chairman vote at the party congress this summer. Halla-aho and his blog Scripta have an avid group of supporters. In 2012, Halla-aho was convicted of incitement against an ethnic group and violation of religious freedom because of a text he published in his blog.
Member of Parliament Juho Eerola is a Halla-aho supporter, and says Halla-aho’s candidacy has caused an unprecedented interest in the party.
”Tens of people have asked me should they join the Finns, and if they do, would they be able to vote for the new chairman. I can’t recall anything like this before,” he says.
MEP Jussi Halla-aho commented on the matter on Sunday while campaigning for the municipal elections.
”I am under the impression that the party office has been very reserved about accepting new members, but I don’t know for certain.”
Party Secretary Riikka Slunga-Poutsalo denies that Halla-aho supporters would be sending in membership applications en masse.
“Our membership applications don’t ask to specify who you support for party chairman. The only numbers we follow is how many people have wanted to join in order to run for local government. We’re actually a bit behind in those numbers compared to the last elections,” Slunga-Poutsalo says.
Membership applications are processed by the Finns Party board, and each month around 7–9% of applications are rejected. Party Secretary Slunga-Poutsalo says one reason for rejection is inappropriate behaviour.