Halla-aho Became the Finns Party Chair, Then the Government Almost Collapsed But the Finns Party Broke

Jussi Halla-aho. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

On Saturday, one of the most anti-immigrant politicians that this country has produced, Jussi Halla-aho, 46, stepped into the lead of the Finns Party after winning the party elections. On Tuesday afternoon, the prime minister was on his way to the president’s summer residence, Kultaranta in Naantali to ask for the government’s resignation. Meanwhile, the Finns Party broke.

Halla-aho replaced the previous chairman, Timo Soini, a devoted Catholic and a foreign minister. After having witnessed several press conferences and handshakes and talks between the meetings with his foreign counterparts, Soini seemed to be effective with the press and his foreign guests. A true populist! He got to the point quickly, and usually the point made sense. He also got along fine with the fellow leaders of the government groups: the Centre and the National Coalition Party.

Halla-aho is a man of a different breed. “I know that there are people who don’t really like me and accept me,” he said in an interview for Iltalehti.

The man has earned his reputation. In 2008, Halla-aho said in his blog: “Robbing of passers-by and living as a parasite is a national, maybe even a genetic characteristic of Somalis.” In 2012, he was convicted to fines for hate speech due to similar comments. He said recently, that he regrets none of it.

Sometimes he makes sense on the surface: “We should use our available resources to help refugees in the camps, at the location, where it’s needed,” he said in an interview for Finland Today during “Close the Borders” demonstration in Kamppi in November 2015. Under the surface he held a thought that there is no point of trying to help the refugees here . . . .

Timo Soini and the ladies. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

On Sunday, Halla-aho said in his policy speech in Jyväskylä that he had received messages from the National Coalition Party saying, “It’s not enough that the Finns have committed to the Government Programme. They tell us that we should also commit to NCP’s values. This naturally is out of the question.” According to Halla-aho, he represents the core values of the Finns: anti-immigration and a firm stand against the EU.

So, on Monday morning, Prime Minister Juha Sipilä, who chairs the Centre party, and Finance Minister Pekka Orpo, who chairs the NCP, invited Halla-aho to the prime minister’s official residence, Kesäranta, to discuss whether they would find common ground with the question of values.

A cheerful-looking Halla-aho arrived at Kesäranta on the rainy morning saying to the reporters that he has a good feeling about the talks.

After about two hours he left in a black Mercedes without saying a word.

A few hours later Prime Minister Sipilä tweeted, “The discussions are over. Our common suggestion to the parliamentary groups of Centre and NCP: there are no conditions for cooperation with the Finns led by Halla-aho.”

Juha Sipilä. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

In a press conference on Monday evening, Sipilä said that “We must share the same value base. In order to maintain our functionality, we must be able to make decisions in all circumstances. The difference has grown bigger than before (after Halla-aho became the chair),” Sipilä said.

Finance Minister Orpo said that “human rights can’t be given up as they are the foundation of a constitutional state.” “The party that Timo Soini built for 20 years has changed in two.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Prime Minister Sipilä was on his way to meet President Sauli Niinistö at the president’s official summer residence, Kultaranta, in Naantali to ask for the government’s resignation.

Then he received a message that a new parliamentary group had been established.

It’s called “The New Alternative.” The former Finns party chair Soini is one of its 20 members – all former Finns party members! “With a heavy heart, we have to admit that the Finns is not anymore the same party that we joined and loved,” said the chair of the New Alternative, Simon Elo, in a bulletin for Finland Today. The New Alternative group is ready to “continue as a government group in Sipilä’s government with the same program and line-up.”

In result, Prime Minister Sipilä cancelled the meeting with President Niinistö.

Sipilä will recommend that the government continues with the New Alternative parliamentary group.

The cricis solved. In a simple, Finnish way.

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