Turning your back on the party base at the most crucial period in Finland since the WWII and the Cold War, doesn’t bode well for continued support.
And of course the highly politicized (fraud) state news is really giddy about the turn of events.
Preliminary results in Finland’s local elections suggest the co-ruling Finns Party has lost a big chunk of support since the last parliamentary election in 2015, when the party polled 17.7 percent of the vote. The party is struggling to match the 12.3 percent it recorded in the last local elections in 2012, with nearly half of the expected votes counted.
You can see up to the minute results on national and local levels here.
The populist Finns Party has seen a string of upset victories in Finnish elections, with the party jumping from 4 percent support in 2007 to 19 percent in the 2011 parliamentary elections. That success was won on the back of strident criticism of EU bailouts for Greece and Portugal, and criticism of Finnish immigration policy, as well as sharp words for elites perceived as cosmopolitan and out of touch.
Burden of govt erodes Finns Party’s support
That swagger has dissipated somewhat since the party entered government in 2015 and leader Timo Soini assumed the post of Foreign Minister. Once in government, the upstart party made compromises on its election stance on bailouts and immigration that proved to be deeply unpopular with its support base, many of whom defected to other parties.
Soini has announced he will step down as leader this summer, with parliamentary group leader Sampo Terho and hardline anti-immigration MEP Jussi Halla-aho favourites to succeed him.
With support now lagging way behind the peaks of 2011 and 2015, the party now has big decisions ahead of it. Asked about the early results in light of the party’s breakthrough results in previous elections, Soini suggested that the party may have come to the end of its winning ways.
“Politics is such that when you’ve been in 17 elections and won 16, the day will come when you don’t win anymore. That day was today,” he declared.
“I take responsibility for these elections,” Soini said later in the evening.
Halla-aho was guarded in his response to the early returns, however he acknowledged that even those results defied his expectations.
“At this stage the results are weaker than I would have expected,” he told Yle.
However he noted that it would be foolhardy to forecast the final results on the basis of the early count. He said that he hoped the party would recover lost ground as the vote count proceeded, especially in Helsinki, where the party appeared to be lagging behind.