Ministry to consider funding implications of Finns Party Youth ‘fascist’ video

If the organisation is found to be in breach of conditions for receiving state support two years in a row, they could have all their funding cut.

Finns Party Youth official Toni Jalonen (L) with Estonia's Finance Minister Martin Helmi (2nd Left) and other ethno-nationalists in Estonia / Credit: Twitter

The Ministry of Education and Culture tells News Now Finland a video by a senior Finns Party Youth Group leader, where he declares himself a fascist, “will be examined and considered by the government officials in the department of youth and sport policy.”

The move could have further funding implications for the right-wing populist organisation which already had its full 2019 grant allocation reclaimed by the ministry, and saw it’s 2020 funding cut by 15% as a result of racists posts on social media.

A second breach of the rules for receiving state funding could end up with a total cut in official support for the organisation.

“The Youth Act clearly states, that the Ministry of Education and Culture may withdraw eligibility for state aid if the organisation, if its activities, in two consecutive years, fail to meet the criteria for state aid pursuant to this Act or other regulations issued hereunder” the ministry says.

File picture of advertising for Etnofuture right-wing conference in Estonia, 23rd February 2020 / Credit: Twitter

‘I am a fascist’

Speaking at an ethno-nationalist event called ‘Etnofutur’ in Estonia on Sunday, Finns Party Youth Group Vice Chairman Toni Jalonen gave a speech in English to the audience.

“Today I am a nationalist, a traditionalist and a fascist” he said in comments caught on video. Members of the audience, which included Estonia’s far-right Finance Minister Martin Helme, cheered and clapped.

Finns Party leader Jussi Halla-aho, who has previously been convicted of inciting racial hatred against an ethnic group, has told Finnish media he wants to know more about the context of the speech before deciding whether to take action; while the party’s secretary Simo Grönroos said Jalonen would be kicked out of the party.

However there is plenty of support from within the Finns Party family for Jalonen’s actions.

Johannes Sipola, the Deputy Chair of the Lapland Finns Party Youth Group supported Jalonen’s comments and went further, saying that the organisation was indeed fascist.

“Jalonen represents a youth organization and yes, the youth community is openly fascist. That is what the membership is also in favor of” says Sipola.

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

Ministry already slashed funding for the group

In June 2019 the Ministry of Education and Culture decided to cancel and claim back a total of €115,000 from the Finns Party Youth Group after a series of racist posts on social media.

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 said this was the act of one individual person Toni Jalonen, not the organisation as a whole, and the post was removed. However the ministry didn’t buy that argument and canceled half the funding which had not yet been paid out, while demanded re-payment for the half which had already been distributed.

In order to receive money from the ministry, any organisation must comply with the Youth Act to promote equality, non-discrimination, internationality and diversity of cultures.

The ministry says they considered what happened last year when deciding on the 2020 budget allocation.

“This year the Finns Party Youth applied for funding again, but received 15% less than before. The funding of youth organisations is based on the assessment of their application and plans for the coming year and takes into account also the action during the previous year” the ministry tells News Now Finland in a statement.

“The Finns Party Youth were assessed according to same criteria as everyone else. Their plans for 2020, presented in their application, were assessed to be in line with the youth act.”

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