CfP: Populism and radical right politics in Central and Eastern Europe: rethinking the role of media, public discourse and their publics (25-28/08/15, 12th ESA – Prague, CZ); DL: 28/01/15.

Part of the 12th Conference of the European Sociological Association (25-28 August 2015, Prague, CZ), the RN32 Political Sociology organizes Session 4: The Populist Radical Right as Political Actor in Europe. The proposed panel on populism and radical right politics in Central and Eastern Europe is organized by Gabriella Szabó (CSS, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, HU) szabo.gabriella[at]tk.mta.hu and Ov Cristian Norocel (CEREN, University of Helsinki, FI) cristian.norocel[at]helsinki.fi, and is envisaged to fit within this framework.

Already a decade ago it was aptly noted that the study of populist radical right in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) resembles the efforts of aiming at a target in motion. Since then, several researchers have explored the populist radical right political landscape in the region. Still, we believe that studies of populism and radical right are facing the dilemma of whether categories of Western-oriented research properly describe the populist and radical right politics in CEE countries. A case in point, anti-immigration and Islamophobia seem to be non-issues in the CEE contexts, whilst ethno-nationalism (such as in Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania), fundamentalist Catholicism (like in Croatia, Poland) and the frustration over the loss of past glories of the country (Hungary) are often hard to synchronize with Western developments. All the more important, the study of populist radical right parties needs to take into account the increasing inequality and growing intolerance to difference (be it ethnic, religious, etc.) in the societies across the CEE. The much needed comparative analyses on European trends of populism and radical right radicalism should be supported by deeper theoretical, conceptual and empirical knowledge on the regional specificities in CEE countries. It is especially true for the ‘soft’ factors of radicalization such as the role of media and public discourse in the dynamics of populism and radical right. Therefore, we seek comprehensive assessments of mainstream media response to the populism and radical right radicalism.

The panel aims to examine the extent to which public discourses are penetrated by populism and the level of visibility of the populist and radical right actors are in the public debates. We also address the question of the rather under-researched populist and radical right publics. The social media are believed to be intensively used by populist and radical actors to connect with each other and mobilize electoral support. If it is the case, we are interested in studying the impact and the patterns of this interactive way of populist and radical right communication in CEE countries. The international literature lacks reliable information on the rapidly growing media universe of populism and radical right radicalism with a powerful mix of social media, traditional formats of written press and radio and TV broadcast to balance the hostile mainstream media environment. In other words, we are interested to examine both in a comparative perspective and in case studies whether populist and radical media products have entered into the mainstream or they remain on the fringes of media sphere. We encourage contributions that investigate complex social manifestations, such as the examination of the subcultural environment in the CEE, the intersections of popular culture (skinhead music, rock festivals, and football hooliganism), mass gathering (marches, rallies, festivals) and identity construction (with particular attention to intersections of gender, ethnicity, and sexuality).

Please, send your abstract (no more than 250 words) to both organizers at szabo.gabriella[at]tk.mta.hu and cristian.norocel[at]helsinki.fi by January 28 2015. The potential participants will be informed in due time whether their papers have been accepted and be directed to submit the abstracts through the conference official submission platform before February 1 2015.

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Wednesday, January 14th, 2015 Research No Comments

What Maps Do Not Tell Us? Peering Past Victorious Shouts and Humbled Mumbles of Defeat

The recent local elections in Romania (10 June 2012) have reflected what several political commentators and researchers have warned about: the Social Liberal Union (USL/ Uniunea Social Liberală) consisting of the PM Victor Ponta’s Romanian Social Democrats (PSD/ Partidul Social Democrat) and their allies the Center Right Alliance, which reunites the National Liberals (PNL/ Partidul Naţional Liberal) and the Conservative Party (PC/ Partidul Conservator), made significant inroads into the formerly center-right liberal democrat (PDL/ Partidul Democrat-Liberal) ‘fiefs’, thereby capitalizing on the general dissatisfaction with the PDL’s mismanagement of the past years.

Without doubt, the PDL has registered a significant loss of the citizens’ support, polling only 15.10% for the presidents of the county councils; 15.44% for mayors; 15.29% for members of county councils (according to the Romanian Central Electoral Bureau (BEC), aici). The PDL was sanctioned, not necessarily for the austerity measures during the PDL-led cabinets Boc I (2008-2009), and especially Boc II (2009-2012), but mainly for its complete lack of sympathy for the hardships the average population has been going through from the beginning of the financial crisis, for its undisguised corruption, and contempt for the principles of democratic accountability.

A lot of attention has been given to the apparent ‘colouring in red’ of most Romanian counties (with refrence to the USL’s electoral colours), though such a phrase is not the most accurate, as the PSD did not succeed to gain the majority of positions within the county councils, president of county council, or as city mayor. The USL has registered a very good election result indeed, 45.85% for the presidents of the county councils; 38.46% for mayors; 49.80% for members of county councils. However, as it was aptly pointed out, in the previous 2008 local elections, the constitutive parties of the said alliance have registered better results individually, totaling around 51% (the official results for 2008 available from the BEC, aici ).

Romania 2012 local election results (www.Infopolitic.ro)

Many commentators have rushed to assure – even ex ante – that the results of the elections are to be seen as ‘true’ measure of the coming Parliamentary elections in November 2012. With the recent change of the electoral law, the social-liberal USL is forecast to gather some 60 to 70% of the votes. Leaving aside the frenzy of counting in advance what could happen in a few months from now (especially in the very volatile context of European politics, with – among others – a very tough negotiations with regard to the future of the common currency and the overall economic (in)stability in the EU, the second round for the French Parliamentary elections yet to take place, and the new Greek Parliamentary elections scheduled later this week), there is another development, less visible from the country-wide maps of the election results.

Indeed, something does not become apparent

Romania 2012 local election results (www.adevarul.ro)

at a simple look over the various maps displaying the election results (see for instance the one provided by Infopolitic.ro, aici ; Adevarul, aici; and even Evenimentul Zilei, aici). In the electoral competition between the USL, on the one side, and the PDL on the other, a third political force has made its presence noted on the Romanian political scene. More clearly, the third largest party is the newly founded People’s Party–Dan Diaconescu (PP-DD/ Partidul Poporului Dan Diaconescu) (the party’s website, mainly in Romanian, aici). The PP-DD polled 9.23% for the presidents of the county councils; 7.29% for mayors; 8.96% for members of county councils. Concomitantly, the consecrated radical right populist (RRP) parties in Romania, namely the Greater Romania Party (PRM/ Partidul România Mare) and the New Generation Party (PNG/ Partidul Noua Generaţie) seem to have had only a marginal presence in the preferences of the Romanian electorate (the PRM polled somewhere around an average of 2%, while the PNG only 0.20%), and might actually signal that popular dissatisfaction is most successfully channeled by the PP-DD.

The PP-DD is the product of the eponymous TV-channel owner Dan Diaconescu, who more or less single-handedly has founded the party and created its nation-wide network of branches. At a quick glance, judging from the 20-Points Proclamation the party has uploaded on its website (see link above, in Romanian), the PP-DD appears to have a rather complex ideological makeup, displaying strong populist appeals, such as social justice to be undertaken in the framework of a strong state (which reminds of the former communist state); trial of all

Romania 2012 local election results (click to enlarge) (www.evz.ro)

previous governments found to have mismanaged the country; confiscation of illicit fortunes gained from pillaging the public goods, but also some surprising decidedly right wing, such as tax cuts, tax unification. All these are tinged with discrete nationalist appeals (the numerous and insistent references to supporting Romanianism, respecting the Romanian national anthem, subscription to Romanian Orthodox Christianity, etc.). In a sense, it reminds a lot of the PRM‘s main tenets at the beginning of 2000s as they were expressed by the party leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor.

Even more so, as Romanian sociologist Mircea Kivu aptly noted in his analysis of the Romanian local elections and the emergence of new political entities contesting the elections (in Romania Libera, in Romanian, aici), the PP-DD candidates did not engage in any classical campaigning, opting for having their candidacy endorsed ‘on air’ at the TV station owned by Dan Diaconescu. This comes so strengthen my categorization of the PP-DD as an emerging radical right populist party, with a strong (male) leader that gives his formal ‘blessing’ to his acolytes on TV. In this light, if Corneliu Vadim Tudor had a very influential weekly magazine at his disposal to maneuver his captive electorate, Dan Diaconescu has taken the process to a new level, having his own TV station.

Looking at how the local electoral competition has tested the newly founded parties within the Hungarian-speaking community, it becomes apparent that the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR/Uniunea Democrată Maghiară din România, RMDSZ/Romániai Magyar Demokrata Szövetség) has managed to fend off the negative effects of its being in government the past decade, and used the nationalist escalations sponsored by the Hungarian government to appeal for a return to rationality and moderation. As such, the UDMR/RMDSZ registered some loses, but succeeded to collect 4.95% for the presidents of the county councils; 3.90% for mayors; 5.52% for members of county councils.

In this context, the questions that arise pertain to the stability of the present political system in Romania, especially having in mind the wider developments across Europe. Is the USL alliance aware of the very delicate situation it is facing, with an interim government, already marred by serious scandals – it suffices to point at the no less than 3 ministers that succeeded in the Education portfolio in less than a month- , and the PDL apparently surprised by its own defeat? Does the PP-DD have the electoral appeal to play a similar function as the PRM in the 2000 Parliamentary elections, when it became the largest opposition party? Is the PP-DD the emerging radical right populist force in Romania? What would be the consequences of such a development, with the UDMR/RMDSZ apparently excluded from future government coalitions, and an ever more polarizing and nationalist Hungarian government? Are we witnessing yet another backlash against women in Romanian politics – only one woman has been elected mayor in one of the major cities in Romania, namely Lia Olguţa Vasilescu (PSD) in Craiova?

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Thursday, June 14th, 2012 Research No Comments

All Those Mighty Men Defending Democracy and the Freedom of Speech? Is Plebiscitarian Democracy Swiss Style the Future of Finnish Democracy- the Solution of a New Finnish Radical Right Populist Party? (I)

2010 and respectively 2011 are going to be very lively years, at least politically in the northern part of the EU; Sweden will held parliamentary and local elections on 19th September 2010, and Finland in the first half of 2011, most likely in April. What distinguishes these elections from the previous ones is the ever greater presence of Radical Right Populist (RRP) parties. This blog entry will be divided into two parts, first focusing on Finland and the possible rearrangements on the Finish political scene before the Finnish Parliamentary elections. The second part, which will be published in a later entry, will more carefully analyze the change in attitudes towards the main Swedish RRP, the Sweden Democrats (SD/Sverigedemokraterna), especially on behalf of the media and the party’s preparations for the coming elections in September.

In Finland, it seems that RRP parties attempt to make even deeper inroads into the national parliament. In the 2007 elections the True Finns (PS/ Perussuomalaiset/ Sannfinländarna) received some 4.5% of the votes which translated into 5 seats in the Finnish Parliament (Eduskunta/Riksdagen). Not only that, but it seems that PS was not perceived as a political force to be avoided, or ringed by the cordon sanitaire like in Sweden. As such, the 2009 EU elections witnessed the alliance between the populist PS and the Christian-Democrats (KD/Kristillisdemokraatit/Kristdemokraterna) which led to their presence in the European Parliament with 2 representatives.

But that appears to be only the beginning.  Recently, the online newspapers Uusi Suomi (New Finland) published an article about the emergence of a splinter group from PS as a full-fledged party, after having gathered the required 5,000 signatures (in Finnish, tässä).  The Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE/Yleisradio/ Rundradion) reported on the possibility of this new RRP political force in Finland as well (more extensively in Finnish, tässä; briefly in Swedish, här).

The new political force, which reunites the more immigrant critical voices from PS, is lead by Juha Mäki-Ketelä and in the near future will apply for being recognized as a political entity, submitting the collected signatures to the Minister of Justice. According to its leader, the new political force has quite ambitious plans aiming at 2-3 seats in the future Finnish Parliament. Interestingly the party to be is called Muutos 2011 (Förändring 2011/ Change 2011). Mäki-Ketelä appeared to be rather irritated about the anti-immigration allegations and underlined that his future party will focus on the rights of Finnish citizens and the possibility of enforcing a more plebiscitary type of politics in Finland.

A closer look at the party web-pages (in Finnish, tässä; and briefly in Swedish, här; and English here) resemble a book example of RRP: the party would aim to 1) advance the interest of Finnish citizens; 2) direct democracy to support parliamentary democracy; 3) freedom of speech includes dissidents and those expressing opinions different from mainstream; 4) abandonment of consensus politics; and last but not least, 5) rationalization of immigration politics. Indeed 1) and 2) sound like the recipe for the modern democratic malaise, with low participation of the citizenry in the elections and an increasing politics of consensus that estranges even more the citizenry. Thus 4) is pointing an accusing finger, very much in the populist vein, at the Finnish political establishment that is found guilty of building consensus for their policies. 3) is intimately related to 4) since they both constitute a critique to “politics as usual” of Western democracies. And finally, 5) does not really come at a surprise if it is to remember that the party is representing PS‘ anti-immigration breakaway group.

However, some questions come to the fore. Would the Swiss model of direct democracy energize Finnish democracy, or would be the plebiscitarian option used to stave off immigration policy in Finland? How greater a role played the result of the latest Swiss referendum – that which witnessed the forbidding of minarets being built in Switzerland – in Muutos 2011 decision to embrace plebiscite as means of democratic expression? What kind of effect would have the presence of this party on PS? Will it become a part of the mainstream, even a desired coalition partner in the coming Finnish government; will other parties share PS‘ criticism of immigration and welfare protectionism?

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Monday, June 7th, 2010 Miscellaneous No Comments

Whose Populists Are Better? When the Populists Are Becoming the One Another’s Others.

It is often said that the European Parliamentary (EP) elections from June 2009 witnessed a rise of the radical-right populist parties. These parties have performed, indeed, very well. For instance in Finland, the True Finns (PS/Perussuomalaiset) has a mandate, in Romania, they surprisingly got 3, after Greater Romania Party (PRM/Partidul Romania Mare) surprisingly co-opted PNG‘s leader on their lists for the EP, and in Bulgaria the National Union Attack (Ataka) received 2 mandates. Not to mention that in the Netherlands the Party for Freedom (PVV/Partij voor de Vrijeheid) won 4 .

So far all these newly elected MEPs are crowding the ranks of the Non-Attached Members (NI/Non-Inscrits), with rather few options or ideas for building up their own party alliance within EP, which would ensure visibility and access to European financing. But things appear to be more complicated, and the fate of the now-deceased Identity Tradition, Sovereignty (ITS), and of the Independence/Democracy Group (IND/DEM) and Union of  Europe of Nation (UEN) clouds the future of any possible alliance of the radical right populists in the EP.

The aforementioned “alphabet soup” of various combinations of abbreviations and short-writings may be succeeded by the nascent Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD), reuniting Finnish populists (PS), with Italian Northern League (LN/Lega Nord), and Danish People’s Party (DP/Dansk Folkeparti). The Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) seems to be negotiating with the new alliance, though it is not very clear if this would be successfully concluded or not.

Worth mentioning, while looking at the NI, the non-attached parties, is the difficulty of the radical right populist parties from this category  to position themselves according to their party agenda, and at the same time consolidate a functional alliance in EP.

One such example is the interview given by Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch PVV to Euronews channel (the whole interview may be viewed here). While most of the interview is focusing on what Wilders calls the danger Europe faces to giving in to Muslims pursuing to enforce Sharia on the continent, the title underlines the existing tensions between the “old” EU (The Netherlands are among the founding members) and the “newly arrived” from the last round of enlargement, Romania and Bulgaria. According to Wilders “the Dutch people think that Europe is large enough”, especially with regard to the hypothetical EU accession of Turkey and Ukraine. Playing the card of the menacing Other, especially the Muslim Other, is part of his usual discourse. The mention of  cohorts of fanatical Muslims that corner ever-appeasing European-wide political establishment into granting Sharia legal standing within EU is not something uncommon in his speeches and interviews.

But then it appears that not even the EU latecomers Bulgaria and Romania are to be spared because “those countries were not ready at all, were very unready and very corrupt as well.”  Suddenly the focus from the possible threat coming from a so distinctive Other (as the European Muslim) moves to the eastern borders of the EU, eying the newest EU-members. In this case the evil Other is no longer that easily perceived, and comes with an air of Balkanism, and suspicions of bribe and unruliness. Yet again fantasies of purity and of social welfare are interestingly mixed to portray  an Other that is rather a peripheral presence, somewhere in an indistinct, far away and backward East, but positing the treat of always coming among the People, and possibly corrupting them. Even among the newly elected MEPs, one of PRM‘s representatives, George Becali, was put under a travel ban by Romanian judges under the suspicion of corruption.

In this context, one cannot but to wonder where are the radical right populists of Bulgaria and Romania in this whole conspiracy of the Other? Doing the maths, 2 MEPs from Ataka and 3 from PRM, may be just as good, and some may dare say as European as PVV‘s 4.  What is then what divides them, and will they be able go past treating themselves as one another’s Others? Will radical right populists in EU manage to look past their obsessions of purity and settle for the compromises of daily politics?

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Tuesday, July 7th, 2009 Research 1 Comment

Investigating Radical Right Populist Discourses: Conceptual Metaphors.

Lately, I have been working on a paper titled ‘Conceptual Metaphors at Work in Radical Right Populist Discourses: Romania Is a Family and It Needs a Strict Father.’ My intent was to flesh out how certain metaphors were consistently employed by the two presidential hopefuls from the Romanian radical right populist parties in their 2004 televised final confrontation. The two were Vadim Tudor of the Greater Romania Party (PRM/Partidul Romania Mare) and George Becali of the New Generation Party (PNG-CD/Partidul Noua Generatie). The conceptual metaphor of the STRICT FATHER (i.e. the power to take care of the family members in need; the Messianic ability to read and interpret holly texts; the capacity of deciding who belongs to the family and who is excluded; the commitment to enforcing the set rules; and the ability to punish wrong doers, and bring justice to the defenseless) made direct reference to that of the NATION IS A FAMILY conceptual metaphor. The way these metaphors were used underlined a deeply heteropatriarchal structuring at work in the radical right populism in Romania. The discourses were obsessively structured around male figures, and their possible male contenders; women were almost invisible, and when their existence was acknowledged, they were presented merely as some subordinated beings. From this point of view, I think that a closer look from a feminist perspective at how such metaphors structure the reality these parties put forward and want to make people take as given is a worth doing enterprise.

I will present it within the workshop titled ‘From postcommunism and transitology to non-teleological change. Present and future research on Eastern and Central Europe.’ organized by Associate Professor Ann-Cathrine Jungar, research leader at CBEES, Södertörn University College, Stockholm.

The workshop is arranged by the CBEES (Center for Baltic and East European Studies) theme ‘Society and the Political’, and it aims at ‘at bringing together junior and senior scholars in the social sciences and humanities (political science, sociology, economics, ethnology and history) doing research on the political, economic and social developments in Eastern and Central Europe.  The workshop is divided into thematic slots, which are introduced by senior scholars with experience in the specific research area and in which the participants are invited to present their ongoing research. A special session is devoted to issues of fieldwork in the area.’ (quoted from a more extensive workshop description; for more details, please read here).

I am very curious about the feedback I will get from the other researchers on Eastern Europe, especially since mine is very specific a reserch topic and it is undertaken from a consciously chosen gender sensitive perspective. In general populists managed to present masculinity as the norm, and I wonder if this would be accepted as such or discussed critically. I think it will be a very interesting workshop.

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Thursday, June 4th, 2009 Research No Comments

Populists of All Faces Beware: The Evil Other Strikes Again!

It is true, the Evil Other (with capitalized letters for reasons to be detailed bellow) strikes again. If one controversial person got onto the city council on a ticket from the True Finns Party (Perussuomalaiset/ Sannfinländarna) (PS) mainly exploiting the fears of the local Finns of a possible ‘immigrant invasion’, more recently the Mayor of Helsinki/ Helsingfors Jussi Pajunen expressed his worries about an ever increasing population with an immigrant background in the capital.

Helsingin Sanomat’s article on the matter reveals the mayor’s calculations: from a soon to break the 10% threshold, to a worrying (!?) 24% around 2025. Another interesting point in the article is that the unemployment rate among the people of a migrant background is 2.5 higher than among the Finns. The ‘natural’ conclusion is drawn quickly, the asylum seekers (said by Statistics Finland to be at 1703 for 2007, including ‘refugees by quota, asylum-seekers having received a favorable decision and persons admitted under the family reunification scheme’ for the whole country) are too numerous, and thus Mayor Pajunen recommends a return to the previous gate-keeping.

How really evil is this Evil Other? I will not launch in cross country comparison (if someone will look at the numbers reported by the Swedish Migrationsverket, one may easily understand why). However two questions come forward. One regards the presumed danger that may pose a 10% population of a different background than Finnish. The other is how accurate are Mayor Pajunen’s numbers?

First, this can be a very contentious issue when discussed from the perspective of a mono-cultural landscape. The temptation of purity (the sort of purity that at any other time in history has hardly existed) was/is mainly ventilated by the True Finns Party (PS), since populism appears to be very close to their political soul. (Un)Surprisingly, such populist ideas are taken for granted by other political actors as well. What surprises me though is that it comes from someone from the National Coalition Party/ Kansallinen Kokoomus/ Samlingspartiet (Kok) that was thought to exhibit a liberal agenda. It seems that fear of diversity and  lack of initiative towards a more inclusive city are part of a Finnish liberal agenda. Is the present economic crisis used as some sort of excuse for a job-market of a solely ‘sinivalkoinen’ workforce? Can this realistically be achieved? And at what price? Are we all that evil?

Taking the second question, that of statistical accuracy, according the Minister of Migration and European Affaris Mrs Astrid Thors, quoted in an article in Hufvudstadsbladet, the number of asylum applications will not overpass 5,000 this year, and 2007 witnessed an exceptionally low number of applications. So there is not too much substance to portraying the Finnish capital of 2025 so ‘diverse’ that one in four inhabitants will be foreign. Moreover, I have the inconfortable feeling that Mayor Pajunen is mixing the statistics: I doubt that all those ‘almost’ 10% Others of the total population living under his administration are refugees. They may have a foreign background, yes, but not necessarily unemployed asylum seekers and refugees. So assimilating Others=asylum seekers=unemployed looks very much like a shorthand for something of an outright anti-immigration stance. In this light, is Mayor Pajunen riding on the populist horse? And if he does not, then I wonder what are his comments supposed to mean?

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Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008 Miscellaneous No Comments

In Search for an Evil Other: Finnish Local Elections in 2008

Basically, this is the very disturbing conclusion I reach following the news about the Finnish local elections this year. With all votes counted the statistics (link in English) say this:

1.The National Coalition Party (Kok)/ Kansallinen Kokoomus/ Samlingspartiet (center-right): 23,4%

2. The Social Democratic Party (SDP)/ Suomen Sosialidemokraattinen Puolue/ Finlands socialdemokratiska parti (center-left): 21,2%

3. The Center Party (Kesk)/ Suomen Keskusta/ Centern i Finland (center): 20,1%

So these are the “3 Big” parties in Finland. In general, support for one of them spells disaster or major changes within the other two.Well, if we look at the remaining, or “minor” parties, then the pictures becomes more nuanced:

4. The Green League (G) (in the government coalition)/ Vihreät/ De Gröna (greens): 8,9%

5.  The Left Alliance (VL)/ Vasemmistoliitto/ Vänsterförbundet (left): 8,8%


6. The True Finns Party (PS)/ Perussuomalaiset/Sannfinländarna (populist): 5,4% and thus with a superior result to

7. The Swedish People’s Party (RKP/SFP)(in the government coalition)/ Ruotsalainen kansanpuolue/ Svenska folkpartiet (centrist language based): 4,7%

8. The Christian Democracts (KD)/Kristillisdemokraattit/ Kristdemokraterna (center-right): 4,2%

The winners of these elections are thought to be the Kok and PS. Kok has surprisingly turned from the junior partner in the government with Kesk and two  other “minor” parties (G and RKP/SFP) into the winner of the local elections with implications into the central political games. As such, there are comments that PM Vanhanen (Kesk) will not have a restful autumn. So far, so good, may say some, just another political competition won by the most persuasive.

On the other hand, PS made considerable gains from the previous elections (when it pooled only 0,9% of the votes), tapping on people’s dissatisfaction with mainstream politics. On a closer look the party has a strong anti-immigration (to put it mildly), anti-Swedish speaking (the famous pakkoruotsi/ mandatory Swedish), and commonly labeled as populist, Finnish nationalist, national conservative and so on. This means, in other words, that people are fed up with an explosive immigration (4,9%) and an all menacing Swedish speaking Finnish population (5,46%). If you do the math, there are virtually a bit over 10% of the total Finnish population endangering the rest of almost 90%. In which way, this is a bit unclear to me. What is interesting to note that such a menace has determined the Finnish voters to give their votes to PS.

An educated guess would be that from now on, an ever more suspicious, monocultural, exclusionary political agenda will be taking shape at community level. I am well aware that the asylum granted (68 in 2007, according to the same source as above) will drastically decrease. Those that dare to come to Finland in search for something better, well, they need to be prepared to assume the role of the Evil Other.

The Swedish speaking Finns are probably familiar with being the Enemy within, so they will do what they do best, becoming ever less visible and compromising and accommodating the radical political newcomers. That happening in a country that has bilingualism (Finnish and Swedish are official languages) stated in its Constitution.

A few days ago I was reading a piece about a visit of the Minister of Migration and European Affairs, Astrid Thors (RKP/SFP) to a hotel in a neighborhood in the capital, and taking over the tasks of a cleaner. Needless to say, most cleaners at the aforesaid hotel were of a foreign background. I was thinking of the symbolic putting together of those Others from outside (migrants) and from within (the Swedish speaking Finns), and frankly speaking they did not really look that menacing.

But then again, I was looking at them through the eyes of a foreigner, n’est pas?

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Monday, October 27th, 2008 Miscellaneous 3 Comments