Right-wing Finn switches party

The Finnish parliamentarian James Hirvisaari has joined the tiny Finnish party Change 2011 (Muutos 2011) after being excluded from the populist True Finns (Perussuomalaiset) party.

Øyvind Strømmen

Hirvisaari was excluded from the party earlier this month, after a photograph surfaced in the Finnish press showing Seppo Lehto performing a Hitler salute in the Finnish parliament. Lehto, who is a well-known far-right activist and has been running the podcast Patrioottiradio (Patriot Radio), was hosted by Hirvisaari.

In the past, Hirvisaari himself has claimed that South African rape statistics may be a result of genetics, and he also stated that the terrorist attacks of right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik in Norway in July 2011 were an indirect result of Norwegian immigration policies. In 2012, he landed in hard weather with his own party, after refusing to fire his aide Helena Eronen. Eronen had written on her blog – purportedly as a joke – that immigrants should wear a special badge on their clothing to make it easier for police to identify them.

The political history professor Timo Soikkanen, interviewed in the Swedish-language Finnish newspaper Hufvudstatsbladet, states that racism has been an Achilles heel for the True Finns, preventing them from being considered a potential government partner. According to Soikkanen, Hirvisaari has been “consciously flirting with fascism”.

Hirvisaari’s new party was founded in 2010. In addition to being markedly anti-immigrationist, it is a proponent of direct democracy. The founding of the party was largely planned on the nativist Internet forum Homma.

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About Øyvind Strømmen

Øyvind Strømmen is a Norwegian freelance journalist, author and managing editor of Hate Speech International. He has written extensively on the extreme right and other forms of extremism since 2007, and has published the Norwegian-language books Det mørke nettet (2011) and Den sorte tråden (2013), the first of which is also translated into Swedish, Finnish and French.
View all posts by Øyvind Strømmen →

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