Finland will leave the
European Union and position
itself as the Switzerland
of the north to protect its
independence if Laura
Huhtasaari, the presidential
candidate of the eurosceptic
Finns Party has her way.
She also told Reuters in an
interview she wants to tighten
immigration rules.
Huhtasaari — dubbed
“Finland’s Marine Le Pen”
after France’s National Front
leader — is a long-shot. But she
believes she has a real chance in
the January election as her party
has taken a fresh start following
its removal from the coalition
government in June.
”The rise in Europe of parties
that are critical towards the EU
and immigration is due to bad,
unjust politics,“ she said. ”The
role for Finland in the euro zone
is the role of a loser and payer…
“I do not want Finland to
become a province of EU, Finns
must stand up for Finland’s
interests.”
The Finns Party, formerly
called “True Finns”, rose from

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obscurity during the euro
zone debt crisis with an anti-
EU platform, complicating
the bloc’s bailout talks with
troubled states.
It expanded into the secondbiggest
parliamentary party in
2015 and joined the government,
but then saw its support drop
due to compromises in the
three-party coalition.
This June, the party picked
a new hard-line leadership
and got kicked out of the
government, while more than
half of its lawmakers left the
party and formed a new group
to keep their government seats.
Huhtasaari, 38, who was
picked as deputy party leader
in June, said voters were still
confused after the split-up but
that the party would eventually
bounce back.
“The game is really brutal.
The biggest parties want us to
disappear from the political
map. No-one is in politics
looking for friends.”
The Finns party ranks fifth
in polls with a support of 9
percent, down from 17.7 percent
in 2015 parliamentary election,
while the new “Blue Reform”
group, which has five ministers,
is backed by only 1-2 percent.
Incumbent President Sauli
Niinisto, who originally
represented the centre-right
NCP party, is widely expected
to be elected for a second six-

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year term by a wide margin.
A poll by Alma Media last
week showed 64 percent of
voters supporting Niinisto
while 12 percent backed
lawmaker Pekka Haavisto from
the Greens. Huhtasaari, a first
term lawmaker, was backed by
3 percent of those polled.
“Things happen slowly when
you’re fighting against the
hegemony… I still have time
before the elections,” she said.
Huhtasaari, who supports
U.S. President Donald Trump
and Britain’s former UK
Independence Party leader
Nigel Farage, said the European
eurosceptic movement was
gradually strengthening
despite a series of blows to anti

establishment
parties.
France’s National Front and
Italy’s 5-Star Movement failed
in attempts to win legislative
and civic elections while UKIP
won no seats in the British
parliament, albeit that its goal
of Brexit won a referendum.
“Any change takes time, a
step forward and step back…
But the movement strengthens
all the time,” she said, noting
Austria’s Freedom Party’s
strong performance in October
elections.
Markku Jokisipila, the director
at the Center for Parliamentary
Studies of the University of
Turku, said Huhtasaari was
unlikely to succeed in the Jan 28
election.
Around 70 percent of Finns
support EU membership and
the centre-right government is
committed to the euro.
“There’s no way around
it, she is very inexperienced
politically for this election,”
Jokisipila said.
He added that the Finns party
had become more united after
the June split-up, but that it
was now too focused on its
anti-immigration and anti-EU
platforms to be able to increase
support.
“They will not disappear
from the Finnish politics. The
challenge is to broaden their
profile… but they have also
proved that they do have
surprise potential.”

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