Ministry cancels Finns Party Youth grant and demands repayment

A total of €115,000 official funds had been allocated to the group for 2019, they will now have to repay all the cash they've received so far.

Composite image showing Toni Jalonen (L), Finns Party Youth logo (C), and Asseri Kinnunen (R) / Credit: News Now Finland

The Ministry of Education and Culture has decided not to pay the second half of a €115,000 grant to the Finns Party Youth group, and claim back €57,500 which has already been paid this year, over posts on social media.

“Youth organisations wishing to receive a grant from the Ministry must comply with the Youth Act” says Esko Rannon, Director General of Youth and Sports Policy at the Ministry.

“If they don’t want to comply with the law, the organisation has to finance its activities from other sources” he adds.

Screenshot of Finns Party Youth messaging on social media / Credit: Twitter

What was posted on social media? 

During the spring, the Finns Party Youth and its members posted a number of social media messages which were branded ‘racist’ by politicians and members of Finland’s civic society.

One post showed a European Parliament election campaign advert with two dark-skinned parents holding their child. An official Finns Party Youth social media account had shared the advert, and added the comment “vote for the Finns Party if you don’t want Finland’s future to look like this”, written in Finnish.

In their defence, the group says this was the act of one individual person Toni Jalonen, not the organisation as a whole, and the post was removed.

However, today’s ruling shows that the Ministry didn’t believe their explanation.

Back in March ministry officials already spoke with the new secretary general of the Finns Party Youth group Asseri Kinnunen to let him know the expectations of organisations which receive official funding.

According to the Youth Act, the money that was given to the organisation is supposed to promote equality, non-discrimination, internationality and diversity of cultures.

Ombudsman’s opinion on the matter

During the decision-making process, the Ministry took into account a statement from Finland’s Ombudsman for Equality who said that the Finns Party Youth were in clear contradiction with the objective to promote equality for young people.

The Ombudsman says that the social media posts discriminate on the basis of ethnic origin, and will create a hostile, degrading and humiliating atmosphere for minorities.

“This is the first time in history when a youth organisation’s grant has to be recovered because of its conflict with the objectives of the Youth Act” says Henni Axelin from the Ministry’s youth work policy department.

Axelin says that the Finns Party Youth group have to be aware that there are consequences for its activities in terms of what money they can receive from the public purse.