The leader of the Finns Party Jussi Halla-aho says his party won’t be issuing any official apology for the publication of a book this week that contained numerous racist and anti-women paragraphs.
The book was published by the Suomen Perusta think tank which is closely aligned with the Finns Party’s ideology – and indeed the book was launched with fanfare last Monday by the Finns Party with Halla-aho appearing at the event.
However speaking to journalists at a press conference after a Saturday meeting of the party’s executive, Halla-aho admitted mistakes were made in the book’s publication. He said although there had been “very bad feedback” even from within the party’s own ranks, there wouldn’t be any formal apology.
“We are, of course, very sorry that this is happening. My very basic philosophy in life is that a person apologises for his own actions. The most important thing for us is to ensure that such damage does not happen again” said the MP.
“Sure, I can present an ex-officio apology as party chairman, but on the other hand, this is then a matter of principle more that the party leadership has not been involved in this process and has not been aware of it” Halla-aho added, repeating a message from earlier in the week that he had not read the book before appearing to endorse it at the official launch, and that Suomen Perusta think tank was not part of the official Finns Party structure.
Ongoing party scandals in the headlines
The latest scandal for the Finns Party comes just a week after one of their MPs Ano Turtiainen was kicked out from the parliamentary group after posting a racist meme of George Floyd, a black man who died while in police custody in the USA.
Finland’s Prosecutor General says she has ordered a preliminary investigation into Turtiainen’s tweet after an outcry from members of the public and politicians alike.
Earlier this week, in the aftermath of protests over statues in England, the Finns Party’s media chief Matias Turkkila equated events to the Taliban destroying Buddhist statues in Bamiyan – a narrative pushed online by British anti-EU politician Nigel Farage and other right wing agitators.
A number of Finns Party MPs and MEPs – including Halla-aho himself – have been convicted by Finnish courts of race-related crimes and assaults over the years.
In recent opinion polls the populist party has been losing support as the coronavirus crisis unfolded, falling from a clear first place position at the start of 2020 to battling the National Coalition Party for third place currently.
On Saturday Halla-aho said that his party was ready to join other parties in forming a government but only if the Finns Party was able to promote policies that are important to them.