FINLAND: The Anti-Muslim Immigration 'Euroskeptic' TRUE FINNS right wing party makes big gains in recent election

The story no one really wants to talk about (Oh, YES we do!) about in Europe is the rising tide of right-wing politics.  A nationalist euroskeptic party has made big gains in Finland’s general election, potentially complicating Europe’s plans to rescue debt-ridden economies.

rferl – (H/T Susan K)-The True Finns party won nearly a fifth of the vote in the poll on April 17 — more than quadrupling its current share — giving it 39 seats in the 200-seat parliament. That puts them behind the Social Democrats with 42 seats and the center-right National Coalition in first place with 44 seats. The Center Party of Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi slumped to just 15.8 percent of the vote and said it would go into opposition.
The driving issues of this surge are said to be economic uncertainty, immigration and anti-Islamic “prejudice.”  But the overarching issue is nationalism or, more specifically, opposition to what might be called the “ideology” of the European Union. The True Finns’ surge in popularity partly reflects widespread frustration in Finland, eurozone member, over the financial burden of bailing out countries with floundering economies such as Greece, Ireland, and Portugal.

Fnland is the latest EU country to see mainstream parties losing ground to far-right politicians and parties with anti-immigrant and antieuro ideologies.  Although Finland has relatively few immigrants, the True Finns party unveiled a manifesto at the end of February with an anti-immigrant tone
, according to Jan Sundberg, a professor of political science at the University of Helsinki.
Sundberg says it denounced immigration as not solving labor shortages, and suggested instead that Finnish women should give birth to more children. “They don’t approve of immigration at all,” he says. Sundberg says anxiety at high unemployment and a widening gap between rich and poor boosted the party’s appeal. “There is a two-fold problem. One is this about social policy and the other is about nationalism and immigration,” he says.

“And you have similar parties — a lot of them — in Europe at the moment that are xenophobic and all these kinds of, right-wing populism. I mean, that’s nothing new in the European Union, [but] it has not been strong in Finland for a long time, and now it’s popping up again.”

Elsewhere in Europe, France’s far-right National Front party, headed by Marine Le Pen, recently made gains in last month’s regional elections against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP party. 

And the fiercely anti-immigrant head of the Dutch Party for Freedom, Geert Wilders, who campaigns to “end the Islamization of the Netherlands,” enjoys considerable support — as does his party. In a 2010 national vote, the Party for Freedom more than doubled its seats in Parliament, from nine to 24.

Business Insider – FRANCE is not the only European country suffering a far-right surge. In an arc of countries spreading north-east from the Netherlands, populist parties are cutting a swathe through politics, appealing to electorates with various blends of nationalism, Euroscepticism (and euro-scepticism) and outright xenophobia.

But it’s happening all across the European Union, as this handy chart from The Economist makes clear.

The party has broadened its appeal from its rural base and is filching voters from all sides. It adopts an anti-immigrant pose, but its signature issue is hostility to the European Union and particularly the bail-outs of poorer southern members of the euro by fiscally prudent northerners. Its influence may already be visible in the hard line struck by the Finnish government in recent euro-zone negotiations.

Anti-EU politics have already toppled governments in Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Iceland. Anti-EU politics are now threatening to topple governments in more prosperous European nations.

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