Halla-aho is the best choice….
Far-right Halla-aho tied with Terho for Finns Party leadership
The fate of the three-party government could hang in the balance if far-right candidate Jussi Halla-aho becomes the new head of the populist Finns Party next weekend. The National Coalition Party may quit the cabinet rather than govern alongside an immigration opponent who has been convicted of anti-Islamic hate speech.
The leadership struggle in the populist Finns Party is tightening up. Advance favourite Sampo Terho appears to be losing support to the far-right challenger Jussi Halla-aho.
Halla-aho, now an MEP, joined the race in March after current party chair and founder Timo Soini announced he would not seek re-election and Terho replaced him in the cabinet.
Terho, the party’s former parliamentary whip, is widely seen as Soini’s anointed, moderate successor. Halla-aho, who has been convicted of hate speech, represents the party’s more extreme anti-immigration wing.
Poll: Terho and Halla-aho tied 43-42%
According to a survey published by the Lännen Media newspapers on Saturday, Terho and Halla-aho are now in a dead heat ahead of next Saturday’s vote.
The straw poll of party leaders and activists shows 43 percent support for Terho and 42 for Halla-aho. Responding to the questionnaire were 330 Finns Party officials and influential party members, out of 645 reached by email between May 30 and June 2.
They are to elect the party’s second-ever chair at a party congress next weekend in Jyväskylä.
Looming split in party?
Several party sources told Lännen Media on Friday, that the conservative National Coalition Party intends to quit the government if the outspoken Halla-aho is chosen as party leader.
Lännen Media also says that a number of government sources have confirmed that there have been serious discussions within the cabinet about whether the Soini/Terho-affiliated majority within the Finns Party parliamentary group would form its own parliamentary delegation and remain in the government.
Unusually, Halla-aho has said that he would not become a government minister if he wins the race.
The three-party centre-right coalition government, led by Centre PM Juha Sipilä, recently marked the halfway point of its four-year legislative term. Soini established the nationalist Finns Party in 1995. In 2011 it scored the biggest win ever in a Finnish parliamentary election, with its support skyrocketing to 19 percent. Since then its support has dropped to less than half of that, after it joined the government for the first time in 2015.