The Finns


There may be those who laugh at his attempt, but in order to build a movement, you have to state your case and take it to the people (consistently).

Finns Party chair Soini faces leadership challenge

Oululainen pienyrittäjä Raimo Rautiola haluaa haastaa puheenjohtaja Timo Soinin perusuomalaisten puoluekokouksessa Turussa elokuussa 2015.

Finns Party leader Timo Soini faces a challenge to his leadership in August, when Oulu entrepreneur Raimo Rautiola will stand as a candidate for party chair. He says he will campaign for Finland’s exit from the euro and the European Union.

This year’s Finns Party conference will have some added spice, as leader Timo Soini faces down a challenger for the leadership. Eurosceptic Raimo Rautiola has put himself forward as a candidate, and envisions a semi-detached future for Finland within Europe.

“I want Finland to make a dash for independence, swap the EU for the European Economic Area and get to decide, for example, our own foreign policy issues such as who we can invite to a summit and who we can’t,” said Rautiola, referencing an embarrassing failure by Finnish diplomats—and Foreign Minister Timo Soini—to lift travel bans on important Russians when Helsinki hosted an OSCE conference.

The European Economic Area includes EU countries and Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. If Rautiola wins in the vote in August he says he hopes to start negotiations with coalition partners Alexander Stubb, who heads up the National Coalition Party, and Centre Party Prime Minister Juha Sipilä.

“I reckon that at least Juha Sipilä could be persuaded to switch to the EEA, to try and leave for that,” said Rautiola. “There wouldn’t be a problem.”

Rautiola says that the Finns Party is now such a big movement that there should be a choice of leader. He has been a party member for twelve years, and he has previously been a local party chair and treasurer.

Timo Soini is one of the most popular politicians in Finland, securing 93,411 votes at the last election. He has led the Finns Party since 1997, two years after the party was founded.

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