Affairs of a different kind in Finnish political life
2017-09-01 16:43:52 -

Panu Höglund

Two political parties had their national conventions during this summer, the True Finns and the Greens. The new chair of the Greens is Touko Aalto, who is just a couple of years older than 30, and the subject of some noise in the press after it emerged that his wife of two years had filed for divorce; Aalto, it seems, had an ongoing romance with a 20-year-old woman working in the party offices.


Of course True Finns made their best effort to poke fun at this sexual escapade in their press organ. But it’s basically just the pot calling the kettle black, for after their own national convention – the convention that led to the split of the party – two stories of the same nature went around: one about Jussi Halla-aho and the other about Simon Elo.


Halla-aho was elected chairman of the party during the True Finns convention. He started as a blogger translating ‘alt-right’ propaganda into Finnish; then he and his followers – a bunch so submissive to their leader that they are commonly compared to zombies or robots – took hold of True Finns so as to make the party their own political machine. 


With the almost military discipline among Halla-aho’s followers, they had no difficulty conquering the party, and when Timo Soini, the founding father of the party, left the chair to Halla-aho, it was the final seal of the conquest.


Being the racist propagandist he is, Halla-aho never misses a good opportunity to denigrate Muslims. Thus, he recently raised the question of polygamy among Muslims to make some political capital. However, after the national convention it turned out he had himself been a kind of polygamist – secretly, of course.


Halla-aho is an expert on Old Church Slavonic, and even his wife is a scholar doing research into dead languages. So the man himself had a certain image as a politician who appreciates an intellectual woman and women’s rights, with all the gossip rags happy to help him in creating and keeping up this image. 


Now, however, we have learned that he has had a secret sexual liaison with a young woman for some years, and that the woman has even given birth to his child.


For some years the young woman has been away from the spotlight, but when she still was a household name, she was proclaiming that women’s rights had done women no good and that a married man should have his old privileges restored, so that he could hit his wife with impunity and that his wife would have the duty to obey him. It is thus all too obvious why she and Halla-aho fell in love.


When the True Finns party split after the national convention, with a lot of parliamentarians unhappy with Halla-aho as chair such that they found it necessary to leave the party, the new group was chaired by Simon Elo, and was called the New Alternative to start with. Elo is a relatively young man with the appearance of a quiet and shy scholar, above all a religious conservative. He is hardly a particularly charismatic or sexy character.


But now we’ve heard that even Elo had an extramarital affair, which is very difficult to expect from a young man with such an innocent appearance. It is difficult not to ask the question of whether the poor milksop is telling the truth at all, or just trying to raise the profile of the new party, for it is still quite low; the New Alternative is still trying to define what its new thing is, compared with the other parties, especially the racist True Finns. It is difficult to have a racist party without racism.

Panu Höglund is a Finn who writes in Irish.


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