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Researcher: Finns Party rise fomenting anti-immigrant sentiment

The party is also benefiting from voters choosing conservative over liberal values.

Pesussuomalaisten jäsen jakaa puolueen mainoslehteä Myyrmäen torilla.
Image: Yle

The continued growth in support for the populist Finns Party -- illustrated last week by an Yle poll -- is linked to a rise in anti-immigrant sentiment, according to Emilia Palonen, a lecturer from the University of Helsinki.

"The rise in support has empowered these party activists, who then speak openly and as if it were truly what they think. Party leaders are not, as in [former Finns Party leader Timo] Soini's time, curbing such statements, but rather raising them even more," Palonen said.

Palonen added that any form of dissatisfaction with current political issues, such as climate policy, is being channeled into support for the Finns Party.

"There is certainly no single reason why people vote for the Finns Party," Palonen said.

Story continues after photo.

Tampereen yliopiston tutkijatohtori Johanna Vuorelma
Postdoctoral Researcher Johanna Vuorelma Image: Tapio Rissanen / Yle

Johanna Vuorelma, a postdoctoral researcher from the University of Tampere, posited that voters in Finland are no longer just choosing between parties along the traditional right-left axis.

Instead, according to the researcher, there is now another axis in which the Finns Party represents conservative values and other parties -- such as the Green Party led by Pekka Haavisto -- represent liberal values.

"The voter knows what they are getting when they support these parties," Vuorelma told Yle.

"Never heard such a thing"

On Sunday morning at the autumn market in Myyrmäki, a district in the municipality of Vantaa, almost all of the parliamentary parties had a stall out to woo passing voters.

However, one city councillor told Yle she noticed a difference in the language used at certain stalls.

"One of our city councillors was asked if it was possible to change the colour of their face. I've never heard such a thing being said, quite frankly," said Ulla Kaukola, a member of Vantaa city council.

Another visitor to the market, Satu Raiskio from Vantaa, told Yle that she wonders if the Finns Party's poll numbers will be reflected in the next election.

"I was just discussing with my father in the car that what if in the next election the Finns Party were to win 101 seats. There is nothing more to say other than that democracy is democracy, whatever your personal opinion," Raiskio said.

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