Learning from Finland about how to deal with right wing nationalist parties

While in Helsinki I learn a useful political lesson about a right wing, nationalistic party called (in Finnish, of course) ”True Finns.” My left wing friend is more amused than offended by the implication that he and the other 85% of Finns who voted for other parties are somehow not True Finns. (I think of Nigel Farage boasting that Brexit was a victory for “ordinary, decent, hard-working people,” implying that I who was devastated by Brexit was extraordinary, indecent, and lazy.)

The True Finns are now called Finns, making their name even more absurd since they are now supported by only 6% of the population. Their support has collapsed because they have been part of government, with all that means about competing priorities and the difficulty, even impossibility, of getting things done. It’s easy to promise the impossible and pour scorn on the government when in opposition but tough to deliver when in power. I think of the Liberal Democrats in Britain being decimated after their spell in government.

The Swedes, the Finns tell me, we’re not so clever. The traditional political parties ganged up on the right wing nationalists and denied them a role in government. As a result their support has grown. Unfortunately with our first-past- the-post system we don’t have a way to include UKIP in government. I think too how Brexit was largely a protest vote but that we must live with the consequences for generations with the powerless almost certainly suffering most.

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