The Finns Party’s New Alternative

New Alternative parliamentary group chairman Simon Elo / Credit: Simon Elo

Finland’s newest parliamentary group, the New Alternative, hopes to use its position in government to push for tax reductions for low and middle income earners, according to chairman Simon Elo.

New Alternative broke away from Finns Party earlier this year, after party members elected hardliner Jussi Halla-Aho as their leader. Halla-Aho’s election caused a rift within government where the Finns Party is a junior coalition partner with Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s Centre Party, and Petteri Orpo’s National Coalition Party.

New Alternative emerged in June as a separate parliamentary group which included all of the Finns Party’s ministers, willing to support the government’s legislative programme. Now, they are working towards becoming a political party in their own right, distinct from their roots in the Finns Party.

“We are concerned about the middle class particularly, in terms of paying taxes. The government’s line is that the tax rate should not rise” says Elo, but his group thinks taxes should actually fall for some tax payers.

According to the Ministry of Finance, Finland’s tax rate has already dropped from 44% to 42% in recent years. Elo says the direction is right, but it could go further.

The government is considering at least some measures to boost employment, family reform and refugee quotas. The New Alternative is opposed to reducing the duration of home care allowance eligibility, but is ready to discuss staggering the amount that is paid. They are not willing to raise the refugee quota from the current number of 750 per year.

Autumn Membership Drive

The New Alternative is currently gathering support cards to be eligible to register as a political party. According to Elo, they’ve already got about half of the required 5,000 supporters, and will be meeting in Espoo on Monday and Tuesday to discuss their next moves.

So far, the fledgling party has set up three local chapters, and according to Elo in the coming months they will have nine district-level organisations that could effectively cover the whole country. Elo believes that the transition from being the Finns Party, to New Alternative, will accelerate during the autumn when local offices and personnel are in place.

“At best, there are constituencies where we’re hearing that half of the local association will join us” from the Finns Party, Elo says.