The Finnish parliamentary elections resulted in a massive victory for the True Finns. The party managed to increase the number of its MPs from a mere 5 to a whopping 39 making it the third largest party in the 200 member Parliament. The sabre-rattling party campaigned against the closed circle of the top three parties and will now undoubtedly use its mandate to change several aspects of the current political order. The changes will be felt across the board, but for those interested in monitoring the relations between Finland and Israel, the future is more interesting than ever.

Unlike its Nordic neighbors Norway and Sweden, Finland has traditionally been friendly towards Israel. Only during Erkki Tuomioja''s reign as foreign minister, Finland showed some unprecedented signs of hostility. In a famous interview in 2001, Tuomioja compared Israeli defensive actions to the Nazi persecution of European Jewry. As it looks now, Tuomioja''s Social Democrats will be part of the new government.

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Tuomioja''s multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism run counter to True Finns'' world view. Tuomioja, who as foreign minister, seemed more like an Amnesty International appointed advocate, would have a hard time adjusting to a government led by the likes of Timo Soini, a friend of Israel and Jussi Halla-aho, whose views on immigration and foreign aid do not mix well with Tuomioja''s positions.

It seems unfathomable that the leadership of True Finns would allow Tuomioja back in the driver’s seat as far as Finland''s foreign policy is concerned. However, similarly to Tuomioja, True Finns opposes NATO membership, whereas the incumbent foreign minister, Alexander Stubb is an ardent advocate of Finland joining the organization.

Unlike Tuomioja, True Finns wants to cut foreign aid and is not willing to succumb to UN or EU -mandated foreign policy. Finland is a small country and has limited amount of leverage in world affairs. However, being a member of an important group of a diminishing number of well-run European economies, it has the ability to make a difference in many important issues.

However it’s likely that the current foreign minister and a popular politician, Alexander Stubb will continue to run the foreign ministry. Stubb is a media-driven politician who is often unwilling to reevaluate existing policies and instead refers to EU and the UN as the two organizations that Finland should follow.

True Finns has the political capital to challenge many existing policies which have never been scrutinized. For example, Finland''s sizable and unconditional aid to the Palestinians might be revised under the new government. Moreover, its unlikely that the new government would be pressured into cutting defense ties with Israel simply because organizations such as ICAHD Finland regularly petition the government to do so.

Jussi Niinistö, a security advisor for the True Finns and a strong candidate to become the next minister of defense, recently stated that Finland should increase its defense spending. If one is to look at the list of True Finns MP''s and assuming that the deliberations preceding the forming of the new government go according to True Finns'' wishes, we will likely see a shift toward a foreign policy which will reflect well on the long-standing relations between Finland and Israel.

dennis.mitzner@gmail.com
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