New Alternative, the group of ex-Finns Party MPs who splintered from the party, has announced that the association they formed in June is halfway to having enough supporters to officially found a new political party, Blue Reform.
The New Alternative faction formed after 19 Finns Party MPs including former chair Timo Soini defected following Jussi Halla-aho's election as leader.
That means that the association still lacks the more than two and a half thousand supporters it needs to reach the minimum requirement of 5,000 people after two months of campaigning. Association chair Sampo Terho blames the slow pace on the summer holidays.
"People are taking time off after a fraught political spring," he says. "It's time to get back on track with everyday concerns."
Terho said he wasn't worried about the association's ability to gather the minimum quota, and emphasised the need for legwork in gaining supporters for Blue Reform.
No presidential candidate
The burgeoning party has yet to announce a presidential candidate for next year's presidential elections, leading to speculations by Terho that the group may end up supporting another party's candidate.
Vesa-Matti Saarakkala from New Alternative has announced his support for incumbent president Sauli Niinistö of the National Coalition Party.
Terho says that a total of nine regional offices are in the works for Blue Reform, with sections in Finland Proper, Lapland and Pirkanmaa already founded.
"We'll be building up the infrastructure over the autumn. We will have rules, programmes, party support signatories and finally a real party," Terho says.
Elo: "Realism without racism"
New Alternative parliamentary group chair Simon Elo spoke at the group's summer meeting on Monday, outlining some of the features of the still hypothetical Blue Reform party.
"Blue Reform is about realism without racism," Elo commented. "We hold that anyone can become Finnish and everyone has inalienable human rights."
Elo also said that no person with a criminal record of inciting racial hatred would be allowed to participate in the Blue Reform party in any way.
Anti-immigration remains a strong standpoint of the forming party.
"We do not accept any kind of forced programmes that mandate EU member states to take in asylum seekers without said country having a say in the matter," Elo went on. "Finland is a small country and can only do so much. Finland has done its duty, we have no reason to castigate ourselves."