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True Finns now largest Finnish party in new poll as Corona fatigue punishes incumbent government

The opposition party in Finland, the True Finns is now the largest party in the country. A professor of political science at the Swedish-language university Åboakademin said in a comment to Swedish Radio that it was Corona fatigue that was having an effect and was punishing the current government before the upcoming local elections.

Published: March 21, 2021, 9:25 am

    In an opinion poll published by the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, the conservative anti-immigration party could come out on top in the upcoming municipal elections which were supposed to be held in a few weeks, but which have now been postponed with the claim that a more difficult Corona situation would become even worse if people went and voted.

    This represents quite a change, because at the beginning of the Corona crisis, support for the severe restrictions imposed by the Finnish government under the Social Democrat Sanna Marin was almost total.

    The fact that the local elections have been postponed and will instead be held in June, was supported by almost all parliamentary parties in Finland, except the True Finns. The party believes that the postponement of the elections does not have much to do with Corona, but instead is an attempt to stop the rise of the True Finns.

    The Finns Party has been compared by international media to the other Nordic conservative parties and similar nationalist and right-wing movements in Europe that share Euroscepticism and are critical of Islam.

    Even if the party did not succeed in getting the municipal elections held as planned, the True Finns can instead rejoice in the latest opinion poll showing that it has become the largest party with as much as 21,5 percent. That is exactly one percent above Sanna Marine’s Social Democrats, which registered 20,5 percent.

    As previously mentioned, all parties, including the True Finns, agreed on the Finnish Corona strategy a year ago. Now, however, Corona fatigue has set in with many Finns simply finding the current restrictions too harsh. True Finns have benefitted from this, as they are now the only party that wants to see a different strategy for the country.

    “This is a kind of Corona fatigue,” said Kim Strandberg, professor of political science and political communication at the Turku Academy, speaking to Swedish Radio. He concluded: “True Finns are also the only party that clearly opposes the government’s Corona strategy.”

    The party says that as the Corona epidemic in Finland progresses, the more confusing and obscure the ministers’ speeches have become. In less than a year and a half, several ministers in the government led by Prime Minister Sanna Marin have honed a skill to speak a lot, but offer no information.

    The evasion of questions is particularly evident in parliamentary questioning sessions, the party complained on its website. “Question time is the most important forum for political debate in Finland, where MPs have the opportunity to ask their questions to ministers. Over the past year, however, it has been seen that no answers are often given. Question time easily gives the impression that the questioner and the respondent are talking about completely different things.”

    Former Minister of Transport and Communications and long-term Member of Parliament Kimmo Sasi has also paid attention to Prime Minister Marin’s evasive answers. According to Sasi, confusing communication undermines credibility.

    “The Prime Minister does not answer the questions asked of her, but avoids them with general descriptions of the situation or goals,” Sasi explained.

    Marin’s evasive answers, which focus on the background and on listing goals, have often been heard during parliamentary question sessions. Last week, Marin repeated her responses in an interview with MTV’s Ten News, where the prime minister did not provide an answer to any of the questions put to her.

    Marin was asked what the prepared restrictions on movement were based on. In her reply, Marin said that she had described the matter before and said that the matter was being prepared, in addition to which she reiterated the question raised. There was no new information in the response.

    “As I have previously described, then the government, of course, is preparing for and is prepared to act just in case of any kind of situation. At the moment, this preparatory work is done, this I have already described several times this spring. And it is precisely these questions that have been asked here that are now being answered, that is, what kind of action would then be taken, if necessary, what kind of movement should be restricted, but I would like to emphasize that the government has not yet dealt with this together. And the time for this will come later, but of course the preparatory work is being done,” she said.

    Suomen Uutiset asked for the views and advice of the well-known speech and rhetoric trainer Antti Mustakallio. He has followed the ministers’ appearances in the media and during parliamentary questioning hours.

    “It is sometimes difficult to find out from the ministers’ answers what their final point is. Although the criticism is now directed at government ministers, I do not think it is this government in particular, but it is a common and well-known occupational disease of politicians.”

    Recently, the media has also drawn attention to the ministers’ inadequate responses. Mustakallio considers this to be a relevant media task. “It is only good that the media quotes it if politicians do not answer questions directly. In that case, politicians also know that their evasive responses will elicit a reaction, and at worst, for them, the result will be seen at the ballot box.”

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