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.
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.