The resurrection of Finland’s most famous political zombie
2017-02-01 09:47:24 -
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Panu Höglund

Back in the 1970s, President Urho Kekkonen was the leader of all politics in Finland. As a skilful operator, he was able to get the support of all political parties, especially due to his ability to humour the Soviets. At that time we all saw Paavo Väyrynen – the then-young star of the Centre Party, the president’s party – as his heir apparent. In his writings and speeches, Väyrynen always stressed the importance of good relations with the Soviet Union, and you wouldn’t expect anything else from an aspiring Finnish politician, especially of the Centre Party.

Then the Soviet Union collapsed, and so did Communism. Väyrynen had invested all his political capital in Finland’s old foreign policy, which entailed close relations to the Soviets. Now we found new friends in Europe, trying to forget the dark years of Soviet supremacy. When Finland was negotiating about membership terms with the European Union, Väyrynen was still against it, and afterwards he still was one of the biggest Eurosceptics in our country.

Although he has lost much of his old status in the Centre Party, he has always had his individual constituency of supporters, and now he is attempting a political resurrection outside his old party. He has started his own private party, called the Citizen Party, which tragicomically does not recruit common citizens as members. He has basically only a handful of ‘expert’ members, as he himself calls them. Most of them are Russia-friendly old hands who share the same initial understanding of foreign policy. Moreover, some have a background in Russian-sponsored fake news publications spreading racism, anti-European sentiment and conspiracy theories.

Väyrynen has never been a racist, but it seems he has decided to make his own use of racism being so fashionable in today’s Europe. He and his party are demanding more restrictive immigration policies: he does not seem to pay attention to the fact that Finland’s immigration policies have always been quite restrictive in comparison with other European countries. 

Of course this is what you can expect from a Russian-sponsored party these days, but it is difficult to say whether this will earn any votes. It seems that the tide of racism has turned in Finland – the True Finns party is losing support, and new micro parties are appearing so as to fight over the racist votes left to be had. Of course a party of this kind is led by its own führer who isn’t interested in co-operating with other similar parties.

Those who remember Väyrynen from the days of his ‘prime’ are rather dissatisfied with this pathetic end of the old politician’s career. Once he was slated to become the president of the country; today he is trying to get the votes of scoundrels and thugs. 

Moreover, it seems that his old party is going to split because of the internal controversy inspired by his new party. You’d think it is legal and legitimate to disown a party member who has started another party, but Väyrynen’s admirers are still so strong and fanatical that they might not allow this. This means it’s likely that the party will tear itself apart in the long run.
TAGS : Panu Hogland Ireland Opinion Finland Political zombie
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