The strong performance of the far-right in Finland’s elections has shown the strength of anti-immigrant parties across the continent. The elections have caused consternation in Brussels ahead of the EU Parliament elections from May 23-26. A similar pattern has emerged in Estonia where prime minister Juri Ratas is in coalition talks with the far-right, anti-EU EKRE party.
In Spain the anti-immigrant Vox party stunned observers and drove Socialist’s from office in Andalusia.
French far-right researcher Jean-Yves Camus told AFP identity and immigration are the “motor force” behind the populist vote in Europe.
He said: ”There is a real crisis of representative democracy which is being challenged through direct democracy.”
The researcher outlined how the hardline nationalist Jussi Halla-aho had driven his party in a much more radical direction than his predecessor Timo Soini, who conformed more to the model of a European national conservative.
READ MORE: Finland election: Brussels PANIC as populists SURGE before vote
Camus said: “There was radicalisation within the Finns Party.”
Goran Djupsund, a professor of political science at the Abo Akademi University in Finland, noted that no party in the election had passed the 20 percent mark, suggesting it was a sign of growing fragmentation in politics.
The party of outgoing prime minister Juha Sipila was relegated to fourth place.
Mr Djupsund said: ”It is a phenomenon that we are sharing with the rest of Europe.”
Mr Halla-aho, The Finns Party leader, is a softly spoken figure whose calm public persona belies his written works.
He is renown for being harshly critical of Islam and migration, in this he has echoed his far-right counterparts across Europe.
He played up the importance of Finland’s particular identity, railed against immigration and denounced “climate hysteria”.
He has said the pressure to halt global warming was “destroying the economy and Finnish industry”.