The deliberations to form a new government in Finland are underway. The 200 member new parliament has thus far agreed on distributing leadership over different political parties. The True Finns will chair the Foreign Affairs Committee, Defense Committee and Administration Committee. In other words, True Finns will have an opportunity to shape Finnish foreign policy into one that reflects the views of its MPs and their constituents.

As I wrote in my previous post, the leader of the True Finns and the candidate who received the most votes in the whole country, Timo Soini declared his admiration for the state of Israel during a televised national debate just days before the elections. Jussi Halla-aho, who received the second most votes in Helsinki, and the sixth most in the country, has on several occasions expressed his support for Israel''s defensive military actions. Halla-aho has been appointed to chair the Administration Committee.

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Soini and Halla-aho are undoubtedly the two most well-known politicians who benefited from the disenchantment felt towards the existing political order. However, when it comes to Israel, they are not the only pro-Israel voices in the party.


For example, Reijo Tossavainen, an MP from Kouvola, defended Israel''s actions against the flotilla and argued that Israel had every right to be dubious about the intentions and the cargo of the Turkish-funded mission. In one pre-election question, a freshman MP, Mika Niikko was asked which country he would befriend on Facebook. The answer was Israel. Niikko explained his decision by saying that Israel is the most “misunderstood, criticized and bullied nation on the planet”. For many years, another True Finns MP, Anssi Joutsenlahti acted as the chairman of the Friends of Israel -chapter in his home town, Kankaanpää. Another MP Olli Immonen wrote in his blog that multiculturalism feeds anti-Semitism by citing examples from Sweden and Norway.

As far as Israel is concerned, the political composition of the new Finnish parliament looks promising. In addition to the Israel-friendly True Finns, the parliament already has several MPs who have traditionally been friendly to the Jewish state.

Now that the Green party and the Left Alliance lost several seats, it looks like attitudes towards Israel fluctuate between friendly indifference and extreme warmth.

The two politicians who are generally know to be hostile to Israel, Erkki Tuomioja, a former foreign minister, and Paavo Arhinmäki, the chairman of the Left Alliance, are still very popular amongst their respective voting blocs, but at the same time they are polarizing figures and therefore enjoy very little support nationally.

As with every political party, some amongst the True Finns might subscribe to controversial views. Only time will tell what the party’s true driving principles are and how those principles will influence Finland''s foreign policy.

dennis.mitzner@gmail.com


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