Teuvo Hakkarainen

‘Iso Jytky’ reloaded?

The results for the 2015 Finnish parliamentary elections are now preliminarily available (a vote re-recount is underway, but no changes are expected to happen). In the table below, the elections results are compared to the previous elections in 2011, and to the latest opinion polls (HS/TNS Gallup – 14 April 2015; YLE/Taloustukimus – 16 April 2015).

Party Election results (April 2011) (%) Opinion poll (HS/

TNS Gallup)

(14 April 2015) (%)

Opinion poll (YLE/


(16 April 2015) (%)

Election results (April 2015) (% change) Seats in Parliament (Eduskunta/ Riksdagen) (seat change)
National Coalition Party (Kok/ Kansallinen Kokoomus/ Samlingspartiet/ Saml) 20.4 17 16.9 18.2




Social Democratic Party of Finland (SDP/ Suomen Sosialidemokraattinen Puolue/ Finlands Socialdemokratiska Parti) 19.1 17 15.1 16.5




(True) Finns (Party) (PS/ Perussuomalaiset/ Sannfinländarna/ SF) 19.1 16.2 16.7 17.6




Cetre Party (Kesk/ Suomen Keskusta/ Centern i Finland/ C) 15.8 23 24.0 21.1




Left Alliance (Vas/ Vasemmistoliitto/ Vänsterförbundet/ Vf) 8.1 8.5 8.3 7.1




Green League (Vihr/ Vihreä liitto/ Gröna förbundet/ Grö) 7.2 8.1 8.8 8.5




Swedish People’s Party (SFP/ Svenska folkpartiet i Finland/ Suomen ruotsalainen kansanpuolue/ RKP) 4.3 4.6 4.6 4.9




Christian Democrats (KD/ Kristillisdemokraatit/ Kristdemokraterna) 4.0 3.7 3.5 3.5




A few preliminary conclusions in the aftermath of the 2015 Finnish parliamentary elections:

1) The next Finnish PM will most probably be Juha Sipilä (Kesk/ C).He is a former businessman and entrepreneur and was elected party leader as late as 2012 albeit having been a MEP only since 2011. Sipilä is member of the Word of Peace (Rauhan Sana), a Christian Lutheran Laestadian group, which is known for its opposition to same-sex unions, the ordination of women priests, and opposition to abortion and euthanasia (in Finnish, tässä). It remains to be seen how these elements will be reflected in the coming political agenda.

2) The coming parliament (Eduskunta/ Riksdagen) (with a total of 200 MPs) is going to be dominated by native Finnish middle-aged men (117 MPs), whilst the number of women decreases during this parliamentary cycle (only 83 MPs) (in English, here). In addition, most party leaders are men (with only the exception of Päivi Räsänen, chairperson of the Christian conservative KD). The breakdown according to party affiliation is as follows: the Kesk/ C has only 14 women MPs out of total of 49 (thus, only 28.6% women among the party’s MPs); the PS/ SF has only 12 women MPs out of 38 (31.6%); the Kok/ Saml has 16 women MPs out of 37 (43.3%); the SDP has 21 women MPs out of 34 (61.8%), thus more than half with a good margin of the total number of MPs; the Vihr/ Grön has 7 women MPs out of 15 MPs (46.7%); the Vas/ VF has 7 women MPs out of a total of 12 MPs (58.3%); the SFP/ RKP has also regressed with only 3 women MPs out of 9 + 1 MPs (the extra is representing the Åland constituency) (30%); the KD has 3 women MPs out of a total of 5 MPs (60%). Interestingly enough, it is the progressive left (both the social-democratic SDP and the left Vas/ VF) and the Christian conservative KD that have women representing more than half of their total number of MPs. The most significant difference is to be found among the agrarian-liberal Kesk/ C with not even a third women MPs, and the populist radical right PS/SF with just below a third women MPs.

3) The populist radical right consolidates its inroads into mainstream politics. Although the party records a slight setback (-1.5%) and loses 1 MP, it is confirmed among the larger parties in Finnish politics, even becoming second largest party in the coming parliamentary cycle. So in a way, chairman Timo Soini could claim that this is a ‘iso jytky’ (in English, something like ‘a big thing/event’) of sorts.  Indeed, it seems that nostalgic agrarian-populism combined with thinly veiled xenophobia and populist homophobia is a well-received electoral concoction among Finnish voters. Two illustrative cases: Teuvo Hakkarainen, also known as the ‘apostle of genuineness’ – for his outright xenophobic and anti-LGBTQI remarks and modern reinterpretation of the infamous Madagascar plan – and the originator on Twitter of the Swedish language hashtag #snoppselfie (in English something along the lines of ‘#willieselfie’) as well as the (somewhat) tamer equivalent in Finnish #kikkelikuva (in English, something like ‘#williepic’) (I have discussed these at length in two previous blog entries, here and here) – for his unrestrained machistic courting strategies, bombing women with unsolicited pictures of his penis. Hakkarainen was reelected, and even enjoyed an increase in electoral support. The other example is Maria Tolppanen, who argued she would ‘scream with joy’ if in her constituency in Vaasa/Vasa would be ‘fewer mamu (derogatory Finnish term for migrants) and instead ‘more people (humans)’ enjoying the city square. Criticism of her barely disguised xenophobia was dismissed by usual means (a misplaced punctuation mark) (the topic was analyzed on Migrant tales, here).

4) For the first time, there are two (2) MPs of non-European migrant background. For Finnish politics this is something of a first. It may sound little, but for long Finland had only 1 MP of non-Finnish migrant background (Elisabeth Nauclér, from Sweden, representing Åland constituency), and a few of a mixed Finnish – non-Finnish background, such as Jani Toivola (Vihr/ Grön); and Ben Zyskowicz (Kok/ Saml). Now there are two MPs, Nasima Razmyar (SDP), a woman with roots in Afganistan; and Ozan Yanar (Vihr/Grö), a man with roots in Turkey (in English, here). Both of them got elected in the capital Helsinki/ Helsingfors constituency.

At the moment, a lot of speculations concern the cabinet negotiations, particularly if the PS/ SF is going to join the coming governmental formula. What kind of ‘iso jytky’ and for whom remains to be seen in the coming 4 years.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, April 20th, 2015 Research No Comments

When a #kikkelikuva Is Not a #snoppselfie and What Are the Consequences of That

There are not many MPs in today’s Finnish Parliament (Eduskunta/Riksdagen) that have been so often in the attention of the media, and even fewer have managed to galvanize more vehement reactions than the (True) Finn Teuvo Hakkarainen (PS/ Perussuomalaiset/ Sannfinländarna/ SF). Hakkarainen took the Finnish parliamentarism with storm as a result of the March 2011 elections that witnessed his election into the Eduskunta/ Riskdagen, and shortly thereafter made a name for himself for his mediatized rants against the Somali (Muslims) living in Finland, the Swedish-speaking Finnish minority, the LGBTQI-community – in short, against everyone and anyone not easily assimilated to the position of a heterosexual (true) Finnish-speaking Finn that he claimed to represent (for a brief update, see my previous blog entries here; and here). For such acts of (true) Finnish masculine bravery, Hakkarainen earned the distinction of ‘the Apostle of Genuineness‘ and swiftly dismissed any accusations of xenophobia and homophobia as mere misunderstandings of his sense of humor.

In this light, the latest incident may be understood to add a new layer to the complex masculinity performative embodied by Hakkarainen. To cut the long story short, on 13 March 2014 the entertainment magazine Seiska published a piece disclosing that Hakkarainen has been assiduously courting a woman, even sending her naked pictures of himself and close-ups of his sex organ from his work phone (in Finnish, tässä). The incident caused a lot of media attention and Hakkarainen issued a public apology. It was discussed not only in the Finnish yellow press – Ilta-sanomat (in Finnish, tässä) and Iltalehti (in Finnish, tässä); but also on the Finnish national TV network YLE (in Finnish, tässä; in Swedish, här) and the reputed Helsingin sanomat (in Finnish, tässä) and in the Swedish-speaking Finnish main newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet (in Swedish, här). On Twitter, the Swedish language hashtag #snoppselfie (in English something along the lines of ‘#willieselfie’) trended seriously, as well as the (somewhat) tamer equivalent in Finnish #kikkelikuva (in English, something like ‘#williepic’).

The chair of PS/SF parliamentary group Jari Lindström refused to comment on the event, indicating Hakkarainen‘s public statement concerning the incident. Indeed, Hakkarainen blamed the whole affair on his alcohol abuse and claimed it was part of a failed attempt to extortion. Even more so, according to a PS/SF fellow MPMika Niikko, Hakkarainen did not take the picture himself, but was in fact the victim of a ‘prank’ set up by ‘a friend’ (in Ilta-sanomat, in Finnish, tässä).

In other words, does the whole issue boil down to a (male) Finnish MP’s misfortune to find reliable friends, combined with his inability to deal with alcohol abuse? Does this indicate a toxic manifestation of masculinity widely spread within Finnish society that regards alcohol abuse as an inherent part of being a (Finnish) man? But do these alone justify the harassment that the woman in question was subject to (sending sexually explicit pictures surely do qualify as such) – an aspect not so much picked up on by the media? What if putting this incident in the wider context of significant level of violence against women (both physical and sexual but also psychological) in Finland (Helsinki Times news report, in English here; the FRA report , in English here)? Hakkarainen has gained his reputation of ‘Apostle of Genuineness‘ for his remarks that can be easily considered a manifestation of outright xenophobia, but also a sign of a populist homophobia; does his ‘genuineness’ include sexism as well in this context? Having in mind the coming EU elections later this spring, and despite the fact that the chair of the PS/SF parliamentary group does not consider this issue serious enough to address, do the Finnish voters have a right to know where does the PS/SF position itself on such issues? So far, Hakkarainen‘s previous remarks have been explained through references to his particular sense of humor and his famed ‘genuineness’. At the moment it appears his harassment of women is allegedly blamed on his entourage and alcohol abuse, so the question that comes forward is what and when would be considered to be the entire responsibility of the PS/SF MP Hakkarainen, and when would the PS/SF assume its responsibility in front of its electors for having such a representative in the Finnish Eduskunta/ Riksdagen?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, March 16th, 2014 Research No Comments

When ‘Joking’ Fails, Use ‘Satire’ – How to Make Sure Finland Is Kept Pure If Social Engineering Is No Longer An Acceptable Solution: Make Those Others Wear Patches

It appears that the Nazi ideology has consolidated its place at the main source of inspiration for the True Finns (PS/ Perussuomalaiset/ Sannfinländarna) rank and file. Indeed, in October 2011 the PS MP Teuvo Hakkarainen was suggesting ‘jokingly’ – as it was later on quickly dismissed – that the autonomous Åland/Ahvenanmaa islands (inherently symbolizing the Swedish–speaking Finnish community in Finland) are the perfect place where to ‘put’ all ‘homosexuals’, ‘lesbians’ and ‘Somalis’ to live side by side and see what kind of ‘model society’ takes shape from that (see my previous blog entry discussing the matter, here). It was then evidence the uncanny resemblance with the anti-Semitic Madagascar plan of the Nazis (a Wikipedia entry on the infamous Madagascar plan – in English, here; in Finnish, tässä; in Swedish, här).

On 11 April 2012, this was further exploited by Helena Eronen, assistant to the PS MP James Hirvisaari. Helena Eronen published an article on the Uusi Suomi e-newspaper, titled ‘Ratkaisu poliisin ulkomaalaisratsioihin’ (‘The Solution to Police’s Raids Among Foreigners’, in an approximate English translation). Shortly after it was published, the article was removed from the e-news platform (yet, available in its entirety in Finnish, tässä). It is worth noting that the PS MP James Hirvisaari was elected in April 2011 into the Finnish Parliament (Eduskunta/Riksdagen) on a strong anti–immigration platform, being one of the authors of the Nuiva Vaalimanifesti (on signatories, in Finnish, tässä). The same PM MP James Hirvissari has been also the subject of a trial for incitement to racial hatred because of his blog entry on the same Uusi Suomi, titled ‘Kikkarapäälle kuonoon’.

In her article, Helena Eronen identified a readily available solution to the Finnish Police’s dilemma on knowing a person’s ‘worth’ in the Finnish society: make them wear sleeve badges! According to her, it is useful to know, from the very first sight, ‘who is a Somali Muslim’ or ‘a beggar from Romania’. The symbols on badges were just as easily provided to the readers: a half-moon for the Muslims, a hammer and a sickle for Russians, a landmine for Cambodians (sic). Neither the Swedish–speaking Finns, nor and the LGBTQI–community members were forgotten – in the latter case it was aptly suggested a patch depicting ‘a rainbow’ (media comments on her article, in Finnish, tässä; in Swedish, här). Helena Eronen even envisaged a means to account for someone’s accommodation to Finnish customs: a Muslim foreigner’s half–moon could later be exchanged to a blue–white half–moon thereby enforcing integration (on her article, commented at length in English, here). Eventually, the ‘blue–white half–moon’ badge could be handed in, a sign of the person’s complete assimilation and secularization: the birth of a new Finn. In other words, there are degrees of Otherness, and degrees of sanction and reward for all Others. The similarity with the Nazi methodical classification of the undesired Others is, yet again, uncanny (a detailed article on the Nazi identification system using badges – in English, here; in Finnish, tässä; in Swedish, här).

One may wonder why has it become so crucially important among the PS rank and file to be able to make a distinction between an apparently ‘true’ Finn (to keep with the PS’ own denomination) and a ‘Somali Muslim’ or ‘a beggar from Romania’? What is the purpose of such process of selection and differentiation? Why to distinguish between a Muslim with a ‘red half–moon’ and one with a ‘blue–white half–moon’ when Islam is squarely rejected by the PS as foreign to the Finnish national fiber? Having a closer look at the hierarchy suggested by Helena Eronen, another question that insinuates itself is why are Swedish–speaking Finns to be ‘marked’ – what is their shortcoming for not being deemed worthy to be part of the Finnish un–badged majority, and why would this justify them being bullied by the majority Finnish–speaking Finns ?

Even more so, applying what appears to be a rudimentary heteropatriarchal logic of structuring, if the LGBTQI–community members have to bear a rainbow, how should then the distinction be made between, for instance, ‘true’ Finnish women dutifully married with Finnish men and bearing Finnish offspring, and those also ‘true’ Finnish women, but who however fail do so? In the Nazi system of badge marking, the political opponents were also classified; with this in mind, it would have perhaps been instructive to know if Helena Eronen also considered a system to differentiate between the common voters and those ‘true’ citizens identifying themselves with the PS cause? And by ways of conclusion, why continuously ‘making jokes’, and writing ‘satire’ on a subject that appears to be such a sensitive point of discussion? Whom is to gain from a radicalization of the whole discussion and at which price?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, April 12th, 2012 Research No Comments

The Finest Art of Finnish Social Engineering: A Heterosexual (True) Finn Envisioning the Society of Tomorrow?

Not so long ago, the True Finns (PS/ Perussuomalaiset/ Sannfinländarna) has decided to change its English name and be titled (only) the Finns (see my previous blog entry discussing the matter, here). However, it appears that despite their name change, the the PS is keeping true to its previous radical right populist (RRP) line of discourse that so often has bordered with outright instigation to hate (be it against the Swedish-speaking Finns, the Somali community in Finland, or the LGBTQI–community in Finland).

The most recent example is constituted by the remarks of Teuvo Hakkarainen, the PS elected MP. He appears to have remained truthful to his line of reasoning (on this, please see my previous blog entry, here). When told he has a certain amount of male admirers that happen to be homosexuals, Teuvo Hakkarainen replied to the newspaper Ilta Sanomat that he would be more interested in having a female following. On the topic, he then presented his ideas about a ‘model society’ (in Finnish, tässä; in Swedish, här). According to him, the autonomous Åland/Ahvenanmaa islands (seen as the epitome of what the Swedish–speaking Finnish community in Finland stands for) are the perfect place where to ‘put’ all ‘homosexuals’, ‘lesbians’ and ‘Somalis’ to live side by side and see what kind of ‘model society’ takes shape from that. This way, the Swedish People’s Party (SFP/ Svenska folkpartiet i Finland/ Suomen ruotsalainen kansanpuolue/ RKP) could no longer accuse the PS of not taking into consideration the needs of the minorities in Finland. He then concluded that on Åland/ Ahvenanmaa the ‘Somalis would finally be free to ‘shout from the minarets’ whatever they see fit. The ‘model society’ could be then replicated on the mainland.

Despite the uncanny resemblance of such a suggestion to the anti-Semitic Madagascar plan of the Nazis (a Wikipedia entry on this matter – in English, here; in Finnish, tässä; in Swedish, här), the Finnish MP Teuvo Hakkarainen does not seem troubled with that. Instead, he appears to have taken on himself this laborious task of social engineering. It does not take long to understand what would such an undertake entail. Finland as it is nowadays has failed the standards of truthfulness established by the PS. In order to correct that, Åland/Ahvenanmaa appears to be safely far and yet soundly Finnish to have all those who fail off the normative spectrum of Finnishness removed from the native mainland soil and sent there. What would this mean? If the Swedish–speaking Finns native of Åland/ Ahvenanmaa and from the rest of Finland, together with the deported Somali community and all those identifying themselves as LGBTQI previously living on the mainland would engage in crafting that ‘model society’ envisioned by the PS MP Teuvo Hakkarainen, one can only wonder what would happen in the meantime on the Finnish mainland thus vacated? Will a purely and truly Finnish heterosexual society blossom on the Finnish mainland, a place where only Finnish men will marry Finnish women and born Finnish babies that would finally balance the pressing demographic problems Finland has to deal with, where finally there will be no calls for prayer from the minarets, where there will be no minority one could think of? And if the SFP/ RKP would probably be busying itself with the ‘model society’ taking shape on Åland/Ahvenanmaa, what would the other parliamentary Finnish parties do then? Would the Left Alliance (Vas/ Vasemmistoliitto/ Vänsterförbundet) or even the Greens (Vihr/ Vihreä liitto/ Gröna förbundet) – only those who are (true) pure heterosexual Finnish-speaking Finns, that is – be participating in engineering this purely Finnish heterosexual society, or would this task be exclusively assumed by the party that IS the Finns?

Unfortunately, Pirkko Ruohonen–Lerner the chair of the PS parliamentary group did not allow for a full development of the PS MP Teuvo Hakkarainen’s ideas and label them as ‘vitsailua‘, or joke (in Finnish, tässä). On who this joke is, however, it has not yet been disclosed. Is it a joke on the Swedish-speaking Finns who see themselves thrown out of the national construct called Finland, or is it on the Somali community whose members have come to Finland with the hope of escaping death and oppression only to be welcomed with a discriminatory superiority of the native Finns, or is it a joke on the LGBTQI–community that is refused membership in this construction of (true) Finnishness? Or is this joke on those who were not yet named and who would, one way or another, end up as unaware pawns in the social engineering plan of a rightfully elected parliamentary representative into the Finnish Eduskunta/ Riksdag?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011 Research No Comments

The True Finns: the Suppressed Finnish Masculinity and the Finnish Majority under Siege? (Re)Defining Racism?

The last elections in Finland witnessed the growing importance of the True Finns Party (PS/ Perussuomalaiset/ Sannfinländarna) on the national political arena.  The PS‘s electoral success also evidenced the increasingly Manichean distinction operated in the public discourse with regard to the native Finnish-speaking Finns, on the one hand, that represent the majority of the population, and the people of an immigrant or perceived foreign background (a category flexible enough to include when needed both Swedish-speaking Finns,  and people that immigrated to Finland freely or people searching for asylum to Finland), on the other. This comes to illustrate that the PS is gradually leaving its former Christian conservative-agrarian origins behind, and converges with other parties in the overall Radical Right Populist (RRP) ideological specter.

The ‘Apostle of Genuineness’

In this context, the newly elected PS representative Teuvo Hakkarainen did not fail to deliver, and in an interview to the local newspaper Jämsän Seutu raised again the issues of immigration from ‘the African horn’, lack of willingness to work on behalf of the newcomers, and summed up with a succinct evaluation of the real reasons for their coming to Finland as being a plan to enforce ‘Islamic laws’ (in Finnish, tässä). Indeed, he expressed his concern with the present level of immigration in Finland, expressing a need to curb it. He continued noting that those ‘neekeriukkoja‘ (male ‘niggers’) instead of doing nothing in the streets of the capital Helsinki/ Helsingfors would be more useful to the Finnish society if they would come to work in the forestry in Jämsä. He then expressed his doubts that the refugees are really running for their life when applying for asylum, and suspected them of simply choosing an easy life of living on the Finnish welfare. He then substantiated his reasoning with a remark that during his work for his company in ‘Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador’, he noted that those ‘eurooppalaista alkuperää‘ (of an ‘European origin’) appeared to ‘work harder’. The interview concluded with his comment that the Finnish capital city risks to become a place deserted by native Finns because of the pressure from the above-mentioned men of color who are coming from ‘the African horn’ trying to enforce their ‘Islamic laws’ on the Finnish citizens. To sum it up succinctly, according to Teuvo Hakkarainen, white men work harder than the men of color who only come to Finland as refugees in search of welfare benefits, and who plan to enforce the ‘Islamic laws’ in the country sooner or later.

Nothing seemed to disturb Teuvo Hakkarainen‘s certainties. The men of color were to be held responsible for not working, for not integrating and only exploiting the generous Finnish welfare system. He was the sage Finnish man, an entrepreneur from the Finnish countryside that does not mince his words, not even once elected into the Eduskunta/ Riksdag. In other words, he was prepared to be an ‘apostle of genuineness’ as some of the medias aptly noted (in Swedish, här). Interestingly, the gender aspect did not raise any attention in the overall discussion that followed. However, from a gender-informed perspective,  it appears that the sort of Finnish masculinity that the PS is embodying (mediated by its MPs) is depicted in a temporarily suppressed position, having to bravely defend the ‘rightful’ way of life and ‘European supremacy’ and vigorously oppose the undeserved rewarding of a competing masculinity – read of color and of Islamic faith. More clearly, Teuvo Hakkarainen can be considered to represent the apostle of a battled Finnish nation. In other words a majority under the siege of the barely over 3% of the population that the immigrant population in Finland represents. Needless to say, the aforesaid 3% is made out of both women and men, of as diverse ethnic backgrounds as Estonians, Russians, Somalis and Iraqis – to name just a few-, and representing a group that is systematically discriminated against in all aspects of their daily lives, excluded from the Finnish national community, but constantly criticized for not doing enough to become Finnish (on this process of belonging, see the excellent work authored by Camilla Haavisto from which a brief abstract in Finnish/ English here).

As a result of  the media attention, Teuvo Hakkarainen was eventually reprimanded by the PS leader Timo Soini, for what even Helsingin Sanomat worded as ‘racially insensitive remarks‘ (in English, here). In general a reprimand is what a Finnish MP gets when voting against the party line, and nothing more. This cannot be met with a shrugging off the shoulders, as it has far deeper implications for the whole climate of the public debate in Finland. If constantly and persistently talking in the medias about people of color as ‘niggers’, and depicting them solely as a burden for the Finnish society, how will such an attitude encourage an ‘open and honest‘ debate – Helsingin Sanomat has underlined indeed the importance of such a debate at least since the 2008 Finnish local elections that witnessed the rise to prominence of such  PS members as Jussi Halla-Aho and his anti-immigration discourse? How rational and balanced will be the assessment of the impact of immigration onto the overall Finnish society? There was also the strong anti-Islam aspect in Teuvo Hakkarainen‘s interview, that one perhaps should also take in consideration, as it represents a bookcase example of what academics call ‘cultural racism‘ – which posits the superiority of a certain race or ethnic group over another, not in obviously racist terms, but disguised under the pretense of cultural incompatibility in the sense of manifest cultural ‘backwardness’ or ‘barbarity’ of the allegedly inferior group – like the hard-working Europeans as opposed to the locals in the Latin American case, or the local Finns in Jämsä as opposed to the men of color from the capital from the interview above. In this context, if labeling people as ‘niggers’ and alleging that they did not really sought refuge to Finland because their life was in danger, but because they planed to enforce their ‘Islamic laws’ in Finland is not enough to be defined as racist, then perhaps the Helsingin Sanomat and the rest of the Finnish media will soon start another ‘open and honest‘ debate about what racism really means these days in Finland? If Teuvo Hakkarainen, who is the elected Finnish MP on behalf of the PS, has earlier excused his ‘racially insensitive remarks‘ by blaming them on his rural background, what sort of background then immigrants to Finland would need to have so that to be taken seriously when they discuss about the racism manifest in the Finnish society? Will gendered racism be taken seriously and will its impact on the public climate be addressed in a comprehensive manner? Will the structural disparities – in terms of unequal treatment, access to resources, and protection by the state – that the population that does not represent the Finnish majority be addressed?

When Racism Is No Longer What It Was Before

Somewhat surprisingly, just recently and concomitant with the debate around Teuvo Hakkarainen‘s interview, the PS has put forward in the Eduskunta/ Riksdag a declaration authored by Jussi Halla-Aho condemning racism, discrimination and the violence they give rise to, regardless if such acts are directed against a member of the minority or the majority (in Finnish, tässä). The PS appealed to the other parties to subscribe to it. However, the other parliamentary parties did not rush to sign the declaration and pointed out that in 2009 a similar declaration against racism, authored by Stefan Wallin from the Swedish People’s Party (SFP/ Svenska folkpartiet i Finland/ Suomen ruotsalainen kansanpuolue/ RKP) , was rejected by the PS chairman Timo Soini under the pretext that it was a way to interfere in the selection process of candidates that the party was undergoing at that time. They also criticized the new declaration’s vagueness, and mentioned Teuvo Hakarrainen‘s interview as an excellent missed opportunity to put the aforesaid declaration to work (in Swedish, här). At a closer look, the declaration takes issue, among other things, with what it calls the unfair special treatment given to immigrant groups or to the Swedish-speaking Finns. The examples given by the PS are the study places allocated to Swedish-speaking Finns at the University of Helsinki/ Helsingin yliopisto/ Helsingfors universitet – which is one of the few still bilingual institutions of higher education in Finland – or the measures to stimulate the employment of people of an immigrant background (in Swedish, här; in English, here). This is a peculiar turn, to say the least, which labels the majority as a ‘possible’ victim of discrimination or racially motivated attacks, and leaves a lot of room for interpretation of what racism and discrimination are. It also raises a lot of questions with regard to what the definitions of racism and discrimination and fair treatment need to take into account. In the document authored by Jussi Halla-Aho, the possibility that the majority will make use of its position of dominance vanishes, and the Finnish-speaking Finns are depicted in a position of ‘defenselessness’ in the face of abuse of power similar to that of the non-natives or the Swedish-speaking Finns. Though, in such a context is rather difficult to rationally explain how a majority could possibly be subject to such a situation.

In this light, one can wonder if not a Finnish-speaking Finn will feel discriminated against, if not outright racially discriminated, when hearing by accident some Swedish-speaking Finns having a conversation in Swedish in a public means of transport? Perhaps such situation will justify, if not require, the violent reaction of the Finnish-speaking Finn against such an obvious act of exclusion? But even more illustrative, if for instance a native Finn experiences racial discrimination in a commuter train at the sight of a school girl of Somali descent that not only is not Finnish and ‘white’, but also wears a headscarf – read she is of color and of Islamic faith- is then acceptable for the native Finn to throw her off the train? In other words, is the Finnish masculinity representing a majority under siege? Does democracy need to be redefined to simply mean the dictatorship of the majority? Even more so, can a party like the PS that received 19.1% of the Finnish votes in the last elections claim to represent the whole population of Finland?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, May 27th, 2011 Research No Comments

The True Finns: Facing True Responsibilities and Acting Like True Finnish Men?!

The elections in Finland, and especially their results have attracted a lot of media attention worldwide. Indeed, with 19.00% of the electoral support the radical right populists True Finns (PS/ Perussuomalaiset/ Sannfinländarna) have 39 MPs in Eduskunta/ Riksdagen. Furthermore, as the third largest party the PS received the chairmanship of several parliamentary committees: the Foreign Affairs  Parliamentary Committee (which will have Timo Soini as chair), the Defence Committee (chaired by Jussi Niinistö), and finally, the Administrative Committee (chaired by Jussi Halla-aho) (in English, here). Interestingly, the PS did not manifest its interest in any parliamentary committees that would have confirmed the party’s allegedly genuine preoccupation with the problems of the ‘common Finns’. Tellingly, the Employment and Equality Committee, and the Committee for the Future are kept by the Social Democrats (SDP/ Suomen Sosialidemokraattinen Puolue/ Finlands Socialdemokratiska Parti), while the Social Affairs and Health Committee is chaired by an MP from the Center Party (Kesk/ Keskusta/ Centerpartiet) – the party that suffered the disastrous defeat in these elections.

This raises a series of questions about the PS priorities in the coming parliamentary mandate. The chairmanship of the Defence Committee is a highly symbolic position, and perhaps it is going to play a key role in what is already announced to be a heated debate about the future of the only Swedish-speaking Finnish brigade of the Finnish Armed Forces (Nylands Brigad/ Uudenmaan Prikaati). Is Jussi Niinistö going to pursue his plans to close it down, as he announced shortly after the elections (in Swedish, här), and if yes at what price, having in mind that the aforementioned Nylands Brigad is not only considered a highly symbolic Swedish-speaking Finnish institution, but it also assures the link between the Finnish Army and the other Nordic Countries, and so far has been economically effective (in Swedish, här)?

Also highly symbolic is the chairmanship of the Administrative Committee by Jussi Halla-aho. After earlier announcing that he would like to take over the ministry responsible with the integration and European affairs, Jussi Halla-aho has admitted to being politically inexperienced. How much of his lack of experience will then be at work in chairing the aforesaid committee? Even more so, how much the Finnish policies towards immigrants and asylum seekers will he attempt to change, and in which way – having in mind his previously rather unflattering comments with regard to Islam and the worthiness of the human beings. Interestingly, when Helsingin Sanomat contacted him after elections, Jussi Halla-aho has accused the journalists of trying to put words into his mouth, although they just asked him to comment a passage taken from his personal blog, which maintained that “individuals can justifiably be placed in a hierarchy of values according to how the removal of their abilities or skills from the use of the community would weaken the community” (in Finnish, tässä; in English, here). Will Jussi Halla-aho guide his policy proposals on matters of immigration, asylum-seeking, basic human rights for both Finnish citizens and non-citizens residing or present on Finnish soil according to these lines of reasoning?

And to end in a similar note, what kind of public space will the coming Eduskunta/ Riksdagen be, and in which manner will the parliamentary debates take place in the future? One glimpse at what is perhaps to come was allowed by the recent remarks of one of the new PS MPs, Teuvo Hakkarainen . Formerly a sawyer, he was elected on the PS list from the Central Finland electoral district. In his brief interview he managed to make some things clear (in Finnish, tässä; with English subtitles, here). Such as that Finland is in need of ‘an instant immigrant rejection law’ because at the present any ‘nigger’ (man) that knows only one word – ‘asylum’ – has a safe entry into the country ‘right away’. And if this was not enough, Teuvo Hakkarainen also confesses to be aware of ‘all kinds of Muslims’ that are ‘hanging around’ ‘crouching and yelling’. A strong opponent of the EU in general, and advocate of Finnish withdrawal from the European cooperation framework, had his aura of Euroskeptic dissolved by the news published by Iltalehti that the sawmill which he partly owns has benefited from some 461,750.00 EUR in financial aid from the European Regional Development Fund (in Finnish, tässä). Assuming that ‘truthfulness’ is one of the key values of the PS, how will Teuvo Hakkarainen be involved in the coming debates on the issue of future migration to Finland, and how will he keep an independent stance on the EU matters?

Considering all the above, it appears that the PS is more interested in symbolic gestures than anything else. The issue of the Swedish-speaking brigade can be seen in this context as the opening of yet another front – if one is to use the military vocabulary – and the brigade’s closure would mark one manly blow to an already embattled language community. Equally manly would be establishing a clear hierarchy of worthiness of all human beings, presumably with Finnish citizens at the top, and drafting policies and laws accordingly. From the same register of manly deeds appears to be the Finnish truthfulness, though with a slight amendment that resembles very much the honesty of the rest of the political class. In this context, how will PS leader Timo Soini manage to maintain in the future that his party is not to be compared with the Sweden Democrats (SD/ Sverigedemokraterna) and need not to be put together with other radical right populist parties, with a parliamentary debate lead by MP Teuvo Hakkarainen, who serenely uses ‘niggers’ and ‘instant immigration rejection’ in the same sentence?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, April 28th, 2011 Research 2 Comments