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Finland rocks the EU

Gavin Hewitt | 09:35 UK time, Monday, 18 April 2011

Some time late yesterday evening a tremor hit the EU. Its epicentre was Finland. In elections an overtly anti-Euro party made huge gains, coming a close third. The consequences are unclear, but the True Finns party may now have real influence on whether Finland agrees to help bail out Portugal.


Finland's nationalist party True Finns' leader Timo Soini celebrates

The True Finns are an anti-immigration party, wary of the influence of Brussels. A measure of their rise is that at the last election they secured just 4% of the vote. Yesterday they got 19%, which put them in third place. They expect to be invited to talks about joining a coalition.

Unlike other countries in the eurozone, Finland's parliament has the right to vote on EU requests to bail-out other countries. Potentially the strong showing of the True Finns could delay the rescue plan for Portugal.

"This is a big, big bang in Finish politics," Jan Sundberg, a professor from Helsinki University, says. "This is a big, big change."

The leader of the True Finns, Timo Soini, said he did not believe that the terms of the bailout package would remain. "Its a bad deal," he said after the count. His aim was for Finland to "pay less to Brussels". Another party, the Social Democrats, which is also critical of a bailout deal, came in second place.

During the campaign the main party in government - the Centre Party - had warned that Finland had to act responsibly to prevent a crisis in the eurozone. Its pleas went unheeded. It was the biggest loser on the night, left struggling in fourth place. Yes, it had been hurt by a funding scandal - but it was a resounding defeat.

A few years ago the True Finns were a fringe party, that received almost no attention. So what happened? The vote was not just about the bailout. There was anxiety about unemployment and fears of a jobless economic recovery. Reductions in pensions had angered many workers. The party also tapped into fears about immigration.

What makes this election so significant is that it follows a pattern across Europe. Establishment and incumbent parties are being rejected. Nationalist parties are gaining influence.

In the Netherlands, the anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders leads the country's third largest party. In Italy the Northern League - hostile to immigration and wary of the EU - is increasingly powerful. In France, Marine Le Pen - who wants to abandon the euro - is showing strong support in the polls.

Recently, writing in the Financial Times, Peter Spiegel questioned whether we were seeing the emergence of a European Tea Party. Certainly there is a strong sense of alienation and dissatisfaction. Immigration is a key factor. It is shaking governments. There are more than 24 million people without work in the EU and there is no appetite to welcome new arrivals. That is why the migrants from Tunisia are sparking such tension between Italy and France.

As important as immigration is unemployment. In countries like Italy and Spain there is talk of a "lost generation" that cannot find work. There is a growing awareness that Europe may be a low-growth area.

And that feeds into the growing anger towards the bailouts. In Finland, the True Finns appealed to a sense of injustice; that the "squanderers" were being rescued.
And then in countries like Greece and Ireland, voters see the years of austerity stretching ahead. Neither the bankrollers nor the bailed-out are happy.

The temptation in Brussels will be to dismiss the True Finns as populists and to ignore them. It would be more interesting to focus on what is stirring up the European grass-roots. The challenge for Europe's leaders is to listen to what is being said on the streets.

(Interestingly there is a fierce argument developing over whether the bail-out medicine is working. As I reported last week, voices are increasingly urging a re-structuring of Greek debt. Both the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, and the French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde used the same word to dismiss such talk. Re-structuring would be "catastrophic". It's not on the table, one of them said. And yet clearly it is. It is being discussed everywhere. Why? Because no one can see how the bailed out countries can grow to the point they can pay down their debts)

So what will happen in Finland? Long negotiations to find a governing coalition. The man most likely to be prime minister is Jyrki Katainen. He went out of his way to play down Finland standing up to Brussels. "Finland," he said, "has always been a responsible problem solver... this is about a common European cause." In many different ways the pressure will be on Finland and the True Finns to compromise.

But, politically, Europe is restive, unsettled, anxious and increasingly losing patience with the elites and the parties in power.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    Gavin says that politically, Europe is restive, unsettled, anxious and increasingly losing patience with the elites and the parties in power.

    That probably needs to happen as more nationalistic political organisations come to the forein Europe, which ultimately might reshape Europe into a looser federation.

    Something more in tune with English sentiments, which could broadly be described as 'anti-Government'.

  • Comment number 2.

    Each time the situation returns then it is worse than the time before and yet European leaders keep talking of progress. It appears that they hope that repeating this like a mantra might convince people. Unfortunately reality is less kind.

    I suspect as time goes by more and more thoughts will drift towards these type of thoughts.

    "On Friday there was an auction of 84 properties at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin. I understand that Jagdip Singh who follows such matters closely feels that the prices achieved were 60% below the peak. The reason why this echoed in my mind is that a house price fall of 60% was the adverse scenario that Ireland’ s banking stress tests assumed less than 3 weeks ago. In some areas at least adverse is already here.

    Whisper it quietly but if a country was to default and start again the biggest potential gains would be found in Ireland if it cut much of its banking sector adrift…."
    http://t.co/b6qQXy3

  • Comment number 3.

    "The temptation in Brussels will be to dismiss the True Finns as populists and to ignore them."

    You must mean Helsinki. They won the national elections in Finland, not (directly) EU-related. If the True Finns go to the government, it is *they* that will have to deal with Brussels (and will discover that talking the populist talk is much easier than getting to grips with actual achieving things). Remember Cameron's anti-EU stances last year? All seems forgotten now as he hugs Sarkozy.

  • Comment number 4.

    The Euro concept is structurally and fundamentally flawed. The current spate of bail-outs is simply digging a deeper hole which will last for longer. The Common MARKET has been usurped by ambitious (and largely incompetent/corrupt) political federalists. Why is there not an outcry in the press?

  • Comment number 5.

    Here's wondering what some euroenthusiasts hailing from Finland will say here now.

    Or will they wait for Sokrates, Zapatero and, yes, Merkel, to go the way of their own premier first.

  • Comment number 6.

    Well done the Finns, the Portuguese The Greeks and The Irish have been badly served by their Governments who fell for the seductive charms of Debt money. The solutions adopted of pouring more oil on the fire or in the old fashioned parlance throwing good money after bad fail to address the core problem of a System of creating the money Supply that does not have reference back to the real wealth of nations and their populations and productive potential. All of these bailouts are designed to perpetuate an essentially bankrupt and now dysfunctional system that no longer serves the needs of wider society at either national or international levels.
    The answer is Honest money, all of the arguments and plentiful Links to where the hard facts reside are here and in lots of other blogs, wrongly still not widely in the popular press. People may be lethargic and may be fooled some of the time the Finnish people and the Portuguese and Greek and Irish are all basically calling the system to account the same thing is starting to happen in the US as well.
    Who has the most to fear from Honest Money? it certainly isn't the tax payers and voters in any of the EU countries it is the politicians and so called Investment Bankers who perpetuate and fraud on the honest citizens who want to work and add to the economic potential of their countries, what prevents them is dishonest money.

    http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.honest-money.com%2F&h=72af8

  • Comment number 7.

    This just in: Babyboomers kill off all hope for future generations.

  • Comment number 8.

    The EU has a number of dysfunctional states close to it's borders, some of which are former colonies of member countries.
    The EU is, rightly or wrongly, perceived as the land of milk and honey and a paragon of human rights. The young and disillusioned from these states head for the EU safe in the knowledge that they will not be beaten, tortured or simply ripped off, so who can blame them for coming? Something has to give; the EU cannot sustain uncontrolled immigration. Assistance needs to be forthcoming for some states, without aid money going directly into the pockets of the corrupt, as usually happens.

  • Comment number 9.

    Thank you Gavin for a very interesting article.

    I must agree with your assessement that the main challenge for the "elite" is to wake up and listen to what is happening on the ground.

    I remember M. Sarkozy sniggering as Marine Lepen's father, Jean-Marie, made a populist speach in the EU Parliament, as well as the same dismissive attitude from M. Van Rompuy when M. Farage made equally inflamatory statements.

    I feel it would behoove some to remember that blaming the electorate for voting to the extreme fringes, and dismissing the populist leaders as unimportant is the fastest way to consolidate those very same movements. Afterall, nobody in the 1920's thought that the Nazi party had a chance against the ruling centrist parties.
    It would seem that such a vote is a symptom that current policies are failing and that these policies need to be identified and properly adressed. Should this happen then it will take the wind out of the sales of the populists.

    I hope that our "elite" wake up and remember that although Brussels is a wonderfully self-protecting burocracy, when and if enough people get fed up then, as history shows us time and again, it will fall.

    In a sense the populist movements are a warning that need to be heeded for fear of something far worse.

  • Comment number 10.

    Non EU Immigration, and particularly that from the Muslim and African worlds over the last decade, is the 'elephant in the room' in many countries. For decades, both centre left, and left wing politicians, have effectively stifled any debate on the subject by shouting "RACIST!", whenever anyone suggested that this sort of immigration is harmful if at high levels.

    Now, when in some respects its too late to turn the clock back in many countries, social tensions are still rising, as the low skill 'manual' jobs in the EU that immigrants could partially fill disappear, and pressure is put both on social housing and welfare. Add to this, the 'Cultural / Religious issues' that these immigrants often bring, and there is a toxic cocktail being brewed across the EU.

    Social engineering of race/culture/religion doesn't work ... it was tried by the Communists at great cost, and faced a violent backlash in places such as the Balkans, and Caucuses .... it hasn't worked in the West with non EU immigration, and we face the possibility of violence here as well. Unless there is a total cap on the entry of any more Non EU migrants (legal and illegal) for a period long enough for some sort of assimilation to take place, then more 'grass roots' revolts will occur in the privacy of the ballot box.

    Add all this, to the 'socialist style' EU bureacracy, that prevents jobs being created and keeps growth prospects low across the EU, and you can expect the great European experiment to be put under a lot more pressure over the coming decade.

  • Comment number 11.

    Well done the Finns,or at least the percentage that voted sensibly.The Eurozone is
    not fit for purpose,it never was,and one can only hope that someone.......anyone....
    will emulate the young lad who blurted out the truth about the Emperors new clothes.Now,who is there? Who will be brave enough to speak boldly and stand their
    ground? Who will speak for democracy and denounce the unelected nonenities who
    preach at us? Someone.......anyone?

  • Comment number 12.

    Never before have the conventional concepts of politics looked so out-dated.

    We see Europe embracing so-called 'right-wing' ideologies as regards immigration, despite the fact that it was the capitalist aspects of right-wing politics spread the cancer of personal self-interest to breaking point... and left us all broke! Of course, as we all know, that analysis glosses over the political classes and the world's richest elite who have made off with their swag and then taxed Joe Bloggs in order to refund many of the world's largest but bankrupt economies.

    With 'left-wing' ideologies left a laughing stock after last century's Soviet Bloc collapse and China's successful capitalisation away from Maoist thinking, capitalism seems to be accepted as the only game in town... even if it has a repugnant stench about it these days.

    Turning inwards towards nationalism is currently the politics of opportunism: a cheap way to seek power from voters who like the phoney innocence of a blame culture. Nothing good will come of such escapist and divisive political strategies. Did the human race learn nothing from the excesses of last century's nationalist extremists?

    If politicians had any vision they would now club together at international level to prevent the evil of excessive capitalism leading to economic collapse and then to national separatism and blame culture... with war as the likely final outcome.
    If voters had any vision they would not allow the current bunch of power crazed idiots to carry on as they are doing.

    Left and right wing are dying concepts. We need responsibility: something quite different from blame.

  • Comment number 13.

    This is a reaction against the anti-democratic EU.

    The individual states in Europe are not strong enough individually to stand up to US & Chinese imperialism.
    Hence European imperialism - witness the attempt in Libya.

    But the EU is not just a counter to US & Chinese imperialism, it is also a way of extracting more profit from its workers - the expansion east allows Europe access to its own Chinese wage-slaves & puts downward pressure on European wages.

    Hence the anti-immigration, racist reaction.

    The EU is forstering zenophobia.

    What is needed is workers throughout Europe to recognise why immigrants are coming in & hence why it is necessary for direct democratic control of the means of production.

  • Comment number 14.

    We are in a crisis. A financial one but still a crisis.
    Certain theories explain social crisises by the "crowd effect": as more and more people believe a same thing no alternatives are considered anymore and this creates "bubbles". From the famous "Tulip Mania" in the XVIII-th century Holland to the late Housing Bubble in the US.
    Right now we seem to develop another, and even more pernicious one, mania: The Money Mania. We try to understand every thing by measuring it against 'money' and we try to fix every problem by throwing 'money' at it.
    Getting out of a crisis needs de-crowding and this takes independent thinking. People no longer accept 'rules from above', and so more so as that 'above' is perceived as being foreign, far away and disconnected with the local realities. This effervescence gives birth to a lot of independent solutions and some of them might eventually provide a way out.
    The down side of this is what sociologists describe using the term "anomie", a general dissatisfaction with the current rules and conventions, a collective state of mind that can lead to things like this, if in the mildest of forms - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12979666, to isolationism - Finland, or even to xenophobic manifestations, as the Holland's Party for Freedom.
    It is up to every one of us to keep the very fine balance between the dissatisfaction with the current situation (and the current leaders) and the promises that wannabe leaders make using every possible opportunity.
    We should also remember that it is our complacency, by not censuring past and present leaders, that brought us here.

  • Comment number 15.

    While massive political change is never about just one thing, a fundamental driver for the True Finns is being missed by the international media. Finland has since the war had a unique three party system, which touts itself as democratic, but in effect is anything but.

    The system was simple; Two of the three main parties would form the government (with the support of a few of the tiny parties) and one would be in opposition. When elections came round the three main parties would compete fiercely showcasing their different views. When the elections were over, two of the three big parties would get together as best of friends and carry on as before. In effect there was never any change in Finland.

    Take away a persons ability to have any say in his life and they become self-destructive. This human trait has transpired en masse in the election rise of the True Finns, many of the voters don't believe anything will change, this was just one way to show dissatisfaction without actually expecting any meaningful change.

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    Elected officials in most western countries have become too distanced from their electorates over the years. They have become insulated by their career focus and have forgotten that they were elected to listen, lead, and govern. Finally, the electorates are saying "enough". The push back may take different forms in different countries, depending upon the "hot button" catalyst that has caused the push back, and the consequences are unknown at this point

  • Comment number 18.

    Perussuomalaiset (Ordinary Finns or Basic Finns) are a workers' party with nationalistic overtones. They are concerned about immigration, but not totally against it. Some of their voters are xenophobic, islamophobic, or even downright racist. The party itself is rather moderate. What brought them victory was apparently their anti-EU stance. I didn't vote for them, but wouldn't worry about them.

  • Comment number 19.

    @Ellinas: excellent post, right attitude!

  • Comment number 20.

    16. At 13:32pm 18th Apr 2011, Ellinas wrote:

    Finland rocks the EU?

    Finland rocks nobody. Finland has the same political power as Malta...at least from the Greek point of view...

    Then you won't mind when the Finnish taxpayers stop funding your sinking country.

  • Comment number 21.

    Disclaimer: I have seasonal flue so I'm not at my sharpest to make comment, however...

    I think that Gavin and other international media has exaggerated the impact of the election win of the True Finn -party especially regarding Portugal. While Timo Soini, the leader of the True Finns has been against rescue package for Portugal, in the time frame of last two weeks he has changed slightly his words, more or less demanding that the package can't be accepted with current terms, that much harsher terms are needed for him to accept it. One also must remember that the next cabinet will be a coalition cabinet, and viable coalition partners for True Finns, namely National Coalition Party and the Social Democrats have much more understanding line for the rescue package. That doesn't of course mean that they like it, they just know that something needs to be done.

    However, while Portugal will probably get its rescue package, I do think that this rescue package is the last line that the political parties can take. If for example Belgium or Spain would end up needing a rescue package, there wouldn't be any political will from any political party to give, that path has been walked. What the EU, ECB and member states should start to do is to prepare for restructuring of debts of some countries, to take active steps to make sure that European banking system can take it and that banks and other financial institutions will run and remain active in all member states.

  • Comment number 22.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 23.

    The reality is the silent majority is tired of the plotics of Europe and all the half truths, lies, and severe economic climate.
    There should be no bail outs, let them deal with the consequences of their own actions!!!
    Facism rose up because of similiar problems in Germany in the 1930's, it's is time for a revoltion in Europe, clear out the so called main stream and have a complete change!!!!

  • Comment number 24.

    I think this result is about positionong for Timo Soini's bid for president next year.
    The front runner, Sauli Niinisto, was probably going to walk it and desperately hopes Soini is invited into the government.
    If not, people will feel he (Timo Soini) has been badly treated and will probably vote for him for president as a consolation prize.
    That would be embarassing.

    This party's success illustrates a flaw of the Finnish form of proportional representation.
    Soini got the largest personal vote in the country but most of his other elected representatives hadn't been heard of until this morning.
    Some of them got elected with total votes of about 1000 (yes, this is a national election) but for the other parties to get elected one needed several times that because the vote was distributed between several popular figures in those parties.

  • Comment number 25.

    Whilst I think about this maybe the Serious Fraud offcie should be investigating the EU and its financial operations!!!!
    Have we had an audit of the EU accounts yet????

  • Comment number 26.

    @22 champagne charlie

    "Imagine what this board would be like had 19% of the UK population just voted for a bunch of xenophobic racists. I can visualise exactly which posters would be lining up to put the boot in, I wonder if any of them have the guts to post attacking the Finnish people? Doubt it."

    Being against (massive) immigration into one`s country does not make one a racist.

  • Comment number 27.

    Well done Finland!
    All Western Europe is tired of the EU ; bail-outs, endless immigration, not only from N. Africa but mainly from the States which acceded from 2004, allowed into the West without check, at a time when jobs are scarce, our wages are being undercut, companies in the West establishing plants in the east, & many these migrants are unskilled or semi-skilled. Let some into the West but on limited visas ; I suggest 2 years and a 50k max. from ALL A2/A8 countries, including family members. At the end of 2 years they must return home and re-apply if they want to return. Same rules must apply to others. It is past time the main Parties in the West had a real, real scare to make them change course in EU - an end to open borders and a referendum before we expand 1 State more. Croatia, Macedonia (FYR), Serbia & Albania all lining up to accede soon and all with low GDP's. Our economies and public services CAN NOT stand these numbers. Let the West stand up and say enough.
    In UK, Child Benefits paid to children of migrants not even resident in the country is an outrage when thousands of British workers are losing jobs by the week. Are we mad? Cameron, 11 months in office, has lost touch if he ever had it. Voters are asking why the migrants get first choice of jobs in the West when our families in Western EU are struggling financially? Barroso and colleagues - Finland is NOT a one-off. Be worried.

  • Comment number 28.

    22. At 14:59pm 18th Apr 2011, champagne_charlie wrote:
    Imagine what this board would be like had 19% of the UK population just voted for a bunch of xenophobic racists. I can visualise exactly which posters would be lining up to put the boot in, I wonder if any of them have the guts to post attacking the Finnish people? Doubt it.

    ______________________________________________________

    ... and that's because 'attacking the Finnish people' en masse would in itself be a bit xenophobic - especially since only 19% (of those who voted) made the choice that produced the headline!

    It's far less confrontational and therefore more constructive to 'attack' - as you put it - those in your own back yard than go attacking foreigners. I think the appropriate word is 'criticise' and I for one have no problem being critical of Finns that voted for a these nationalist muck-stirrers in as much as, although they might be otherwise reasonable people, I think they've made a very bad choice. And I don't need any 'guts' just to state my feelings!

    It's actually your thinking that's the problem here... tempting people to 'put the boot in'.

  • Comment number 29.

    "True Finns" is a gross misnomer! Please do not think that the views of this party are somehow more accurately representative of the views of all Finns. Certainly there are many of us who don't agree with their stance on anything.

    "Perussuomalaiset" is perhaps more accurately translated as "Basic Finns" (with all the connotations of low-brow which that term might imply).

  • Comment number 30.

    Oh dear it seems Champagne Charlie has been at the bubbles a little early in the day.
    The issue it would seem for most Finnish people is the wish to resist economic influence from an external force not based on Race but based upon a natural instinct that something is badly amiss with the economic system in the EU and the banking system worldwide. Trying to pin a hateful or extremist tag to a pretty sensible resistance to a failed system exacerbated by a poor at best economic management system, should not be condemned. It is so easy to resort to invective and posturing especially after a few glasses of the bubbly stuff even a few lines of the hard stuff if we are talking about the City and Wall street, but lets stick to the real issue here.
    The rescue package is such a bad way to describe this or any other bail out package who is bailing out who, who is being salvaged? its the dishonest merchants of Debt money. The Finns and the so called bail out candidates, Banks and countries alike, have a lot to learn from Islam. Instead the banks wage war on Islam ( especially where there is no oil or where the oil is not put at its disposal), they are the real racists. And perhaps this is why.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_banking

    Whilst aspects of Sharia Law are not to my tastes I'm sure my attitudes are coloured by their being misrepresented by those with other motives it seems to me though that Sharia finance would be a very good thing for the west to adopt even the wicked Finns might accept that, even the undoubted very small minority that are motivated by petty nationalistic bigotry rather than a wholesome National Pride and prudence typical of the Scandinavians ( or is that racist?).By the way I live in Sweden.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_banking

    www.honest-money.com

    http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.economania.co.uk%2F&h=72af8

  • Comment number 31.

    #26

    durstigermann;

    "Being against (massive) immigration into one`s country does not make one a racist."

    Of course not. But I suggest you read their manifesto before dismissing them as simply an anti-immigration party. It disgusts me that UKIPs desire to push the euro-sceptic cause encourages them to align with True Finns in Brussels, because ideologically they are a million miles apart.

  • Comment number 32.

    Hopefully this groundswell against the EU which seems to be rising and spreading across Europe will reach a level that will tear this monstrous and useless organisation apart. Only the lack of will by our politicians keeps Britain in this dreadful union, but sooner or later they will have to allow the electorate a referendum on continued membership. It is inconceivable that politicians believe they can continue to deny us this right indefinitely without any good reason to refuse it other than the fear of losing and Britain being in charge of it's own affairs once more.

  • Comment number 33.

    "The temptation in Brussels will be to dismiss the True Finns as populists and to ignore them".

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    And there, Gavin, you neatly encapsulate the whole problem with the current EU. Every time the voting public have been given the opportunity to pronounce upon the direction that the EU has / is taking it is clear that significant numbers reject the current model. If the EU was even faintly democratic the political classes in Brussels would listen and take note. Instead their default position is always to ignore any protest and plough on regardless. In true EU style, the results will be the exact opposite of that which the ivory tower dwellers intended. They talk about the integration of "European citizens" and propose a museum celebrating the "European identity" (as if such a thing existed anywhere except in their deluded minds) but what we see instead everywhere across Europe is the rise of nationalist parties; people don't want to see their national identities subsumed into a homogeneous EU monolithic state. Unless that message finally gets through their thick, arrogant skulls, and they start to dismantle the greedy, corrupt organisation which they have spawned without any consent from the people of Europe, and often in direct opposition to the stated will of national electorates, as we have seen time and again after votes on treaties from Maastricht through Nice and Amsterdam to Lisbon, then there will be more and more voters switching to nationalist, Euro-sceptic parties.

    When Austria had the temerity to freely elect a government which was not to the liking of the Euro elites we were treated to the unedifying spectacle of the EU bullying the Austrian people, which really should have opened up even EU supporter's eyes to the true nature of the beast. As more and more nations follow suit, how will those in the Brussels bunker react? Will they outlaw national elections lest the results contradict the European dream?

    In an earlier age the mob would have been storming the gates of Brussels long ago, but I don't think that the dream can endure much longer anyway. People across Europe are reclaiming their nationality at the ballot box, and that will have the same effect on Brussels as did the trumpet on the walls of Jericho.

  • Comment number 34.

    @sevestargreen - concur ; also with Neil P.
    @Kaybraes - agree all you say. Am pessimistic the main UK Parties will ever allow us a referendum on continued membership of this wretched EU for the simple reason (which you know), they would lose it. This would trigger an EU - wide demand for referenda, and many would be lost (not all, especially the new member States of the former Warsaw Pact) and then the break up of the EU "dream" would be inevitable. No tears in the West, but too much vested interest involved and the demands of the multi-nationals. The EU is not about creating increased affluence for the man in the street I regret - in the very early years I was naive enough to think it was. Too many States acceded too quickly, and open borders have brought widespread job losses, lower wages, demands on housing, school-places, health services, transport that now are non-sustainable. To quote the late Bob Maxwell, "the gravy train has hit the buffers"!

  • Comment number 35.

    kaybraes #32

    Well said! Cameron will do nothing though all the time he is joined at the hip to Clegg.Its the electorate he has a duty to and he cannot be so naive as to imagine
    that the continued membership of this corrupt organisation will add to his popularity.
    He has raised the subject of immigration,and managed to upset Cable........isnt it time that buffoon was put out to grass........and now he needs to raise the subject
    of the EU.......and who cares if Clegg is upset.........and treat the electorate with
    respect.

    I doubt if he will though,as he said " We are better off in the EU changing it from the
    inside".Weasel words methinks! The EU dosnt just need changing it needs being
    recognised as the complete waste of time and money that it is.

  • Comment number 36.

    Jukka Rohila wrote:
    "However, while Portugal will probably get its rescue package, I do think that this rescue package is the last line that the political parties can take. If for example Belgium or Spain would end up needing a rescue package, there wouldn't be any political will from any political party to give, that path has been walked. What the EU, ECB and member states should start to do is to prepare for restructuring of debts of some countries, to take active steps to make sure that European banking system can take it and that banks and other financial institutions will run and remain active in all member states."

    In other words, now that the original loans from the ultra wealthy have been repaid with bail out money from the taxpayer, the bail out money is going to be written off.

    The taxpayer loses, the ultra wealthy gain, due to the commercial decisions of the ultra wealthy and the risks they took in order to become EVEN MORE ultra wealthy.

    The party machine in Europe doesn't even try to appear fair or competent with regard to the masses of wage earners. It is as if the party members are so busy.... so incredibly busy dreaming up new ways to plunder the ordinary people it taxes with such gay abandon, that it forgets to even put on the show of representation.

    Politics is just another industry in the west, like fishing or forestry. Instead of buying fishing rights to water or forests to log, investors can purchase party members. And instead of gaining access to fish or trees, the investor in western government gets lawful access to tax revenue.

    What has brought this happy system of tax farming for the ultra wealthy to an end is not the fact that it is utterly corrupt in terms of democracy and law, but curiously rather it is the sheer unfettered greed of those who own the system itself. Not content to plunder the tax revenue for themselves, they have also plundered the tax revenue from future generations.... for themselves.

    So these party members and their sponsors, they are not the guy you find eating all the pies in your fridge at 3 in the morning. The are the guy who ate all your pies last week, is eating your pies now, and who has somehow stuffed himself will all the pies that you children and their children and their children's children might ever hope to have a claim towards.

    And all the while, through a mouthful of YOUR pie, this fat atrocity is lecturing you relentlessly on the one subject that captivates it:

    "HOW TO SAVE YOUR PIES."

    You have to laugh. What else can be done? These people have already taken all the money. Now they are fighting over who will be the one to admit that the farm is sold, the barrel empty, the game is up.

    But first, there are still some pension funds that have not been raided. There is still some work for these party members to do.

  • Comment number 37.

    re #22

    Mods,why moderate it when this article appears on this very website from 3 days ago??

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13091920

    The BBC writer of this article writes that True Finns are xenophobic, and claims that "They believe that a low birth rate is not solved by immigration, as that results in problems and foreigners do not fit into Finnish culture. Instead, young women should study less and spend more time giving birth to pure Finnish children. That is like a faint echo of Nazi ideology."

    Perhaps you should censor your own journalists instead.

  • Comment number 38.

    I think there are many misconceptions. First, it is absolutely clear that the austerity programmes for the troubled nation are ill designed. This is because they are more punitive (e.g. high interest rate, unrealistic expectations at a short time, as if it is easy to technically tranform a public and private sector with endemic problems) than helpful and lead to such a recession that will end up with default which means that many many people won't get their money back. Not what these Fins want: to make the conditions of loans even more punitive. It is clear that if this happens that not only they won't get their money back (they might want to limit their losses) but successive defaults of Eurozone nations however small or unimportant will lead to total collapse of Eurozone and probably EU and they will suffer a lot. Talking abot shooting yourself in the foot.

  • Comment number 39.

    #22 - champagne_charlie

    "Imagine what this board would be like had 19% of the UK population just voted for a bunch of xenophobic racists".

    Oh come on Charlie! It was only a matter of time before the peripheral nations got mad with the control freak mentality of the people who think they have a god given right to run the bloody place. And of course, the lurch to the right continues. These parties will, of course, argue that they are anti immigration, not racist.

    Personally, I don't believe either view. Immigrants and racial minorities are being scapegoated because the core membership of this union will not admit they got it wrong. This thinking has already taken root in France and will spread. The banning of the burkah, the attempts to buy off unwanted Roma - all of this symptomatic of a political system in retreat.

    You will not beat the current trend by manning the barricades. You might just beat it by getting rid of the discredited status quo.

  • Comment number 40.

    Does this perhaps show us one of the results of an AV-type votong system? The country held to ransom by minorities?

  • Comment number 41.

    ⒷⒷⒸ™

                                            For the Moderators

                   My obscured #16 post was well pondered, carefully selected
                   in his information given, full of hope, peace, participation to
                   social life and inherent to the mood of a EU country (Greece)
                   as well as our consideration about the "how Finland rocks
                   Greece as another EU member". All this to a to a presumably
                   European blog (?). Bring it back please!

  • Comment number 42.

    RonFI

    Absolutely disgraceful claptrap You seriously believe that you can blame all of this on immigration from eastern Europe and then seek to justify it by quoting an eastern European immigrant (your Bob was Czech). Blind prejudice.

  • Comment number 43.

    RonFI #34

    I return the compliment kind sir! A referendum on our membership of the EU is I fear a distant dream for the very reason you cite.This coalition government is very aware
    of the likely outcome if we were allowed a voice and for that reason will stick their
    fingers in their ears,chant la-la-la and hope we havnt noticed.Just the same as the
    labour government before them.

    However,referendum or not each week brings us yet another example of why the EU
    will eventually crumble.With 24 million unemployed in Europe,many of them the younger generation,this is a ticking bomb.France is trying to deny access to the
    Tunisian immigrants sent by the Italians.If they do gain access then its a certainty
    that many will arrive here which we can ill afford.Then of course there are the bail outs which is nothing more than a ridiculous game of pass the parcel.All this because
    not one of the fools will admit that this experiment has failed dismally.

  • Comment number 44.

    What the EU, ECB and member states should start to do is to prepare for restructuring of debts of some countries, to take active steps to make sure that European banking system can take it and that banks and other financial institutions will run and remain active in all member states."

    Default will destroy some banks, and in order to prop them up, the governments will have to destroy our wealth to a previously unimaginable extent. And lets not forget that the current banking system is totally unsustainable.

    And thus we get to the point democracythreat (#36) makes. Where is there still money? Pension funds. Already for years its a badly disguised secret that the EU has cast an envious eye on these pension funds of the member states, seeking to control them to establish an EU pension system. National governments too are desperate for money, and some have already raided the funds a few times.

    And in their relentless desire to 'save the EU and the Euro at any price' what do you think the odds are on it happening again? Brussels has made it very clear indeed it sides with the banks and the investors and has nothing but contempt for the people opposed, 'how dare those little peons oppose our grand scheme and try to vote against it'. This is why they seek to bypass national elected parliaments. We come to the center of the question with this issue, this is why they've been so busy eliminating real democracy, so their 'project' can be propped up at any price.

    Do not be fooled with lying or scaremongering attempts that 'saving banks' is necessary and that Eurozone bailouts are the solution. The Euro isn't just part of the problem, it is the main problem. And what is the problem cannot be part of the solution, and the death of the Euro would lead to an end for political integration and thus of the elitist dream. Giving up on the Euro means end of the road for 'ever closer union', which is why they will lie, cheat, scaremonger and issue propaganda and phony opinion polls to convince you that giving up your wealth is good. We already seen it in action in Germany, where a government commissioned poll was the only one that saw a majority support the current policies.

  • Comment number 45.

    Finland has the smallest percentage of foreign-born population of all EU member states. Also the second generation is very tiny in numbers because of very limited immigration prior to 1993. The very small number of immigrants is one example of that "True Finns" is just a populist party. Their anti-immigration claims have very little grounds but the voters believe their claims about that immigrants would be occupying the country. Statistics etc don't inyerest these people (the voters), they elieve whatever the populists say. Anti-immigration claims are popular for example because of the general belief system: according to a 2003 attitude survey (N = a few thousand), some 30 percent of Finns believe that some "races" would be more intelligent than others, and more than a half believe that immigration would increase drug dealing. AIDS, riots etc in Finland. And unemployment, of course, just like Hitler said before exterminating foreigners of then Germany - Jews. The True Finns are ill, they have even determined what is art and what is not. It's all about making the Finnish voters believe they would be superior thsn sny other people in the world.

  • Comment number 46.

    37 champagne writes:
    "The BBC writer of this article writes that True Finns are xenophobic, and claims that "They believe that a low birth rate is not solved by immigration..."
    --------------------------------
    The BBC writer claims no such thing, he is just reporting what that particular party, the True Finns' have in their manifesto. You don't seen to know the difference between comment and opinion.

  • Comment number 47.

    "The True Finns are an anti-immigration party, wary of the influence of Brussels."

    They should be more wary of Stockholm, Moscow or Tallinn, given that most immigrants into finland come from Sweden, Russia or Estonia. Not many Belgians to be seen in Helsinki.

  • Comment number 48.

    Writing a response to an earlier post, I was repeatedly receiving a message that there was a problem accepting my post. So I am posting this from the same location using a wireless connection. If it goes through untroubled, then someone is up to no good. I wonder who.

  • Comment number 49.

    #43 - sevenstargreen

    "With 24 million unemployed in Europe . ." Help us here. Please define Europe. Is this the EU or the continent as a whole? Does it include the 2.5 million unemployed British? Are they going to miraculously find themselves in work simply by the UK parting company with the EU?

    How are your Italian/Tunisians going to get 'here' (I presume that means the UK) without going through France? Are they going to hitchhike through Switzerland, Germany and Belgium? Perhaps they will steal another fishing boat in Bilbao and make a dash for it across Biscay?

    Look you point about the failed experiment is well taken but it is a failure of leadership and good policy making within the EU that has caused this. It needs to be addressed. You cannot simply walk away from it and scaremongering tactics about a load of Tunisians turning up by all sorts of devious routes is a laughable side show.

  • Comment number 50.

    #47 - lacerniagigante

    That is really helpful. Sweden and Estonia are both Schengen countries. Russia is not. There is a difference. Go figure.

  • Comment number 51.

    Simply put... Not all people are the same. Doesn't mean that any one group of people are better. But you can't take people from an islamic background, drop them in Europe because they want a better life, then watch them not become like they're hosts. They bitterly seem to despise the local population. I see it every time I go through London or Paris. There are some neighbourhoods I just don't even want to travel through, because I get treated so poorly, just for bieng white. I think the socialists in the 60's &70's made huge errors in blowing open the flood-gates of immigration. They should've left it alone, and gone with the natural slower pace. Allowing individuals to assimulate into their new communities, before over-running the natives to that land and forming their own ethnic communities within Europe. It's really last chance for Europe to correct these problems now, and the recent gains of these nationalistic political parties might be the start of it.

  • Comment number 52.

    #46 - margaret howard

    Not again!

    "You don't seen to know the difference between comment and opinion".

    The only distinction between comment and opinion is the desire or willingness to express the opinion. The distinction between comment and the truth - well that is an entirely different matter. Of course, the truth without substantiation is nothing more than comment but we have been down that road before.

  • Comment number 53.

    If citizens in some EU member States are in the process of electing more nationalistic politicians then that could be viewed as a political rebalancing exercise.

    That is, they are voting for politicians who would be expected to draw off some power from the uppermost level of the EU and return it to member States.

    There is even a specific word for it in the EU context ... subsidiarity.

    Or we could simply call it democracy in action.

    Americans will be familar with this process, the individual States have been see-sawing power with the Feds at Washington, well, forever.

    Nothing new really, just new in the EU context.

    What's more, the USA have had to solve the problem of one currency, namely the dollar, operating across wildly different economies, such as West Viginia (= Greece) and California (= Germany).

    The Americns managed it eventually and so will we Europeans.

  • Comment number 54.

    #45 Helsink1

    ---Please correct me If I am wrong but I remember hearing that Finland used to return fleeing (Russian) refugees if they were caught ?

  • Comment number 55.

    Finnish (and all other nordic peoples),

    If you want to continue enjoying Med and Canary holidays for nuts, you ought to pay the Southern bail outs. Otherwise, you can go to the beaches of Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, which are also very handy from your cold lands.

  • Comment number 56.

    Champagne-Charlie

    "Instead, young women should study less and spend more time giving birth to pure Finnish children. That is like a faint echo of Nazi ideology."

    ---- since when is pregnant, barefooted and in the kitchen ---Nazi ideology ????

    By the way ---where is our Finland supporter CBW ?

  • Comment number 57.

    @31 champagne_charlie

    "Of course not. But I suggest you read their manifesto before dismissing them as simply an anti-immigration party. It disgusts me that UKIPs desire to push the euro-sceptic cause encourages them to align with True Finns in Brussels, because ideologically they are a million miles apart"

    Beggars can`t be choosers. The list of parties UKIP could collaborate with on a European level is so small that they cannot be too picky.


    @49 Threnodio_II

    "Look you point about the failed experiment is well taken but it is a failure of leadership and good policy making within the EU that has caused this. It needs to be addressed. You cannot simply walk away from it and scaremongering tactics about a load of Tunisians turning up by all sorts of devious routes is a laughable side show."

    Who will address this issue? The very elites who have imposed mass immigration on their citizens for decades now, without ever asking them?
    The rise of right-wing parties Europe during the last couple of years is a direct consequence of a political consensus amongst the major political parties that migration to Europe from 3rd world countries is a good thing.
    There simply was no established alternative to vote for.

    The furor about the Tunisian illegals showcases just how anxious the political establishment is about those right-wing movements.
    In a time of financial crisis and high unemployment across Europe, the people are not going to stay silent anymore.
    Why is France using force in order to keep the Tunisians out? Because Sarkozy & friends are fearful of the Front National.


    France, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Denmark. Right-wing parties are gaining ground all over Europe. Even in Germany, several right-wing parties have been formed, wait for the next elections (especially Bremen and Berlin).


    I`m not sure whether I like the path this development is taking, but one thing is for sure: the political elites have seen to it. And I still can`t recognize any real determination to change past mistakes.

  • Comment number 58.

    #56. At 22:25pm 18th Apr 2011, quietoaktree

    Judging by the views of Jukka it is better that the studying in Finland includes a bit more reality, however, despite that it seems nearly 20% have got through the studying phase with the ability to question, well done those.

  • Comment number 59.

    Threnodio,

    I just signed in after the closure of the last thread and when posting #47 got the difficulties message from the wonderful, intelligent BBC blog we have now, maybe some MOD experts have been sacked for incompetence and joined the BBC.

  • Comment number 60.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 61.

    #48

    threnodio_II,

    I've had the same problem whenever I try to use code. I think it started when the techies moved the furniture around a wee while ago.

  • Comment number 62.

    #58 Buzet 23

    --- Just don´t go crying to the Leftists -if you get caught up in the Rightist sewage.

  • Comment number 63.

    #60 MH

    --- It´s only Britain falling apart !

    ---nothing serious.

  • Comment number 64.

    20% of Finns voted that the EU Stabilisation Mechanism was wrong.

    20% of Finns voted that the EU Schengen 'open borders' was wrong.

    20% of Finns voted that the non-stop ceding of authority & power to EU-Brussels was wrong.

    20% of Finns may be right or wrong: All that is clear is that 20% of Finns come rom the most 'pro-EU' nation and if that % are fed-up then centralising, monolithic EU-Brussels is indeed in serious trouble with a huge swathe of Citizens across the 27.

  • Comment number 65.

    #38 - vassilis wrote:

    What many Finns and some foreign economist fear that these austerity
    programs will not be enough to stop the banking crises. There
    is too high risk that some large country will be asking for help, but
    there just wont't be enough money to help so big country which could
    lead to the collapse of eurozone. If the collapse of eurozone is inevitable
    in any case, then I think it is wiser for Finland to not give any more
    money, because collapse of eurozone is easier for us to handle if we
    don't have to face it having taken huge debts to help other countries.
    And at the moment it is mostly the banks in other countries who have
    lended money to these countries who seem to be unable to take care of
    their loans, so I think they should shoulder much larger proportion of
    the problem they have caused.

  • Comment number 66.

    I think it is mistake to classify True Finns as a right wing party. On quite many issues they are closer to leftist parties. And most of True Finns, including the party leader, aren't as xenophobic as many outside Finland seem to think.

    For example, during this month, Timo Soini, who is the party leader of True Finns, said that he is quite pleased with the current Finnish immigration policy. He also said that he didn't think that immigration issues played large role in this election and that the immigration issue wasn't even really discussed.

  • Comment number 67.

    It does seem to me to be a shame that a vote for a Nationalist party should lead to the branding as racist of 20% of a whole population. Most of those who voted were probably just registering a protest vote as one poster has pointed out. Probably out of frustration at the musical chairs nature of Finnish politics with business as usual after each election against the general view of the general population.( sounds Familiar ?)


    Put the scare mongering about Nationalism aside and just consider who benefits from the Bail Outs, Really benefits? It isn't the populations of the Bailed out countries it is a basically Bankrupt world banking cartel that needs to be reformed not bailed out.
    The nationalisations that come with these bail outs are in effect providing more fuel for the International money supply to be further bloated for the purposes of Idle specualtion to no ones benefit in any of the real economies on which the "Investment Banks" exercise dominion through controlling the money supply through debt.
    These same Banks are currently seducing both India and China even as we speak with their particular brand of easy money.

    We need a referendum on Honest Money, not just on an AV system of voting etc.

    Scene One Act One.

    Something is Rotten in the State of Bruxelles. ( Washington ) (Westminster).

    Most ordinary people are having a similar encounter with Hamlets Ghost and whilst protest votes are a dangerous thing the existing Hegemony is too rotten to ignore any longer.

    Act Two.....? Sadly this is a tragedy and whilst it has all the elements of a Comedy or Farce we would be wise to keep an eye on the central issue.


    OK Finland / Denmark its a bit of a stretch I know? But even whilst condemning those Finns who are Rascists lets remember that a lot who are not rascists will have been voting for a reform of The EU particularly aspects of economic policy related to (Currency issues and the true nature of Money) OK not the last bit, but most people are offended by the apparent contradictions that are evident in the financial smoke and Mirrors accompanying these so called Bail Outs and the expensive rescues of the Banks back in 2007 ?.

    The Bail out issue is not about people from Portugal moving to Finland or Immigrants to Finland from one place or another, at the root of all these problems is the problem of Dishonest Debt based money, The problem of debt based money is as old as so many of the conflicts that have set one culture or religious view against another.

    "The Love of money is the root of all kinds of evil" Debt Money is certainly treated very carefully in the Bible and the Quoran and has been the cause of more than a few Conflicts. A good case could be put up that Debt Money is indeed the root of all evil.

    Perhaps the Finns are doing us all a big favour in alerting us to the mistakes of the past, with respect to debasing sound money with debt money.

    http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.economania.co.uk%2Fwhere-money-comes-from.htm&h=950c4

  • Comment number 68.

    "They believe that a low birth rate is not solved by immigration, as that results in problems and foreigners do not fit into Finnish culture. Instead, young women should study less and spend more time giving birth to pure Finnish children. That is like a faint echo of Nazi ideology."

    This information, it must be noted, is simply false. I wonder what is the source of this? In my opinion it is rather shamefull for BBC to spread such nonsense. There is absolutely nothing like this in their program. Please have some criticism with your sources!

    Finns are quite civilized people and would never have voted such extremely reactionary party.

    As a finn I feel personally offended by this misinformation. I did not vote the party and I am not especially fond of their policies, but I cannot escape the fact that they will prbabaly go to the governement and thus will represent my country. The article gives a totally perverse picture of the political reality of finland.

    BBC, please remove the article or correct it in order to prove you are decent journalist with some degree of professional ethics. Or is this the level of journalism of the revered BBC?


    Perussuomalaiset, not "true" but "common" or "ordinary" finns, even the name has been translated incorrectly!

    Perussuomalaiset:
    populist? yes
    anti-EU? yes
    anti-imigrant? actually not.. they rather want to diminish what they call humanitarian imigration, but not completely. they are quite moderate (echoing opinions of their leader Soini) in this regard but the opinions within the party do vary a little.
    far right? absolutely not. rather they are social-democrats (leftist-centrists) with a nationalist and anti-EU spin.
    racist? no.

  • Comment number 69.

    mburstyn:

    Does this perhaps show us one of the results of an AV-type voting system? The country held to ransom by minorities?


    In my view, no. Although their third-place finish on 19.0% has received much press, what hasn’t received as much attention is the percentages received by the top two parties: the first place National Coalition Party received 20.4%, and the second place Social Democrats received 19.1%. Only 1700 votes or so separated second place from third place in this election.

    In terms of the 200-seat Finnish parliament, the National Coalition won 44 seats (22.0%), the Social Democrats won 42 (21.0%), and the True Finns won 39 (19.5%). The reasonably close comparison of vote percentages to seat percentages, in my view, is a point in favour of the Finnish voting system, which is based on the d’Hondt party list method. (Its closest UK analogue would be how ministries are distributed in the Northern Ireland Executive; it is quite different from the proposed instant-runoff system for the House of Commons in the upcoming UK referendum.)

  • Comment number 70.

    #38 Vassilis

    It would be worth suffering a little , to see the collapse of the Euro .
    The collapse of the Euro and the EU would be the best thing that could happen for European people !!! Clear the way to rethink from scratch a European Union on completely different lines . People are suffering now and will even more so , as the EU/Euro struggles on and eventual default days arrive .

  • Comment number 71.

    #44 Mvr_512

    Excellent post . The Euro is the undoing of the EU and the EU is the undoing of European unity . Who cares if the banks go bust ; all the greedy speculators need a kick in the teeth . Everyone will suffer a little , but will have the opportunity to emerge the better for a bust up .

  • Comment number 72.

    Hi All

    A little thought experiment....

    Imagine a town of 100,000 people. 75,000 of these people are of working age; let's imagine its a Nordic land so we can skip the complication of stay at home mums. Imagine 5% unemployment: 3750 people unemployed. Now consider for a while how over-represented the least educated and most vulnerable people in the society will be in this 3750.

    Now bring in 2000 unskilled immigrants looking for work. From 3750 to 5750 unemployed in an instant. 53% increase in the number of unemployed. What will happen to the prospects of that most vulnerable section of society?

    With a 50% increase in unemployed what chance have the immigrants of avoiding being over-represented in the unemployment statistics? How much pressure would there be to cut unemployment benefits and other social benefits such as pensions?

    The migration of unskilled workers harms the pay, prospects and living standards of the unskilled unemployed that already exist in the society that the migrants migrate to. It also puts pressure on the budgets allocated to children and pensioners. If you are a poltician looking for support from the lowest echelon of society then it makes a great deal of sense to be rabidly anti-immigration; it is after all in the interests of the poor and unemployed to keep unskilled immigrants out of the country. Is it racist to defend the interests of those who lose out from mass immigration?

    (Personally I think that the EU needs skilled immigration on a large scale, but that is skilled immigration which a somewhat different issue.)

    N.B. The Social Democrats are also dubious about the bail outs; that's 40% of the Finnish vote for parties that have declared a certain scepticism/hostility to the bail out funds. The focus on the Basic Finns erroneously underestimates the breadth of public disquiet over the bail outs.

  • Comment number 73.

    Hewitt's articles as clear, plain and simple anti - EU British propaganda can even be tolerated i.e. articles of the type:

    I like European food so I decided to Russia over there because I was Hungary. After Czech'ing the menu I ordered Turkey. When I was Finnished I told the waiter 'Spain good but there is Norway I could eat another bite'.

    What instead cannot be tolerated is the "sort-selection posts" mode used inside here e.g.


    ( that #16 post was yummy )
    ------------------------
    o ____________
    o |__________|
    / ⒷⒷⒸ™ /\
    / trash bin / \
    /___________/___/|
    | | |
    | ==\ /== | |
    | O O | \ \ |
    | ( | \ \|
    /| | \ \
    / | \_____/ | / /
    / /| | / /|
    /||\|Moderators| /||\/
    -------------|
    | | | |
    (__/ \__)

    in order to decorate with more credibility his (Hewitt's) partisan framework story.

    ...Hasta la vista, Until then: "Don't Shoot Greece It's Only the EU-Piano Player..."

    BTW Hewitt is absolutely right...Finland certainly rocks the EU...in a Eurovision "Lordi - Hard Rock Hallelujah" Déjà vu

  • Comment number 74.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 75.

    Add your comment#69. At 04:52am 19th Apr 2011, Jan_Keeskop

    The moment you said the Finns use the d'Hondt system I understood where the business as usual comment comes from, having lived in Belgium for over twenty years and knowing that this is the country that spawned that method of PR I've seen it faults at first hand. Lists rule the elections and the head of the lists are invariably failed or failing old politicians who run their parties (into the ground) and who can't let go. It takes an awful lot to get a change under the d'Hondt system as moribund stagnant politics with horse trading compromises are the best that can be hoped for. Look at Belgium, still without a government since June 13th last year. Therefore for a rise from 4% to 19% to be achieved the people must be really fed up.

  • Comment number 76.

    Huiamek [sic]

    Usually you say the most common sense type comments and are quite concerned about events in Europe.

    But, to say the EURO being ruined and enjoying the abhorrent disaster of that ..event is a little bit like me sitting in America enjoying the Pacific tsunamis of late. Not tasteful At All. I know where you ARE coming from--you mean the disolution of the Euro group perhaps.

    But, sorry to preach, this is the first thing (during these economically stressful times for millions of people -- understatement if you look closely) that you have said that I think you did not say quite so carefully.

    Maybe long term the collapse could be a realistically positive change, but short term it SOUNDS LIKE HMMMM HERE COMES THE FLOOD,

    ENJOY ALL...resting on your economic lurals might be fine for you, but many are not so fortunate

    Oh well, just thinking ...hmmmmm ...I just don't know how fast I would want or even IF I would want a long standing institutional currency to crumble. The pain and suffering by the little people (people like me, for instance) would be horrific to see.

    Doncha know? THINK...Sorry for pointing out the very real "disconnect" between you and, say, Ellinas, but there you are:)

    And I do view most things you say-write quite positively..maybe, perspectives Can be wildly different, no?

  • Comment number 77.

    Dear BBC, can we please withdraw Gavin Hewitt as the BBC's European correspondent? His anti-europe rhetoric is not helping very much in this Eurocrisis, others notice it all the time. And I suspect there is a reason underlying all of this.

    (Look at my comments on his last two articles about Greece and Portugal.)

    Now, to the Finnish vote. What Gavin Hewitt does not tell us, that the supporters of the Finnish branch of the European right-wing anti-immigration movement are overwhelmingly male, lower social classes, and rural.

    Mix that, as others have said, with a fear of foreigners. Because the Finns have so little immigration - the less you have - the greater the fear.

    In other words, just the kind of loony xenophobic bunch which I do not want to influence European policy. It is absolutely nonsense to suggest that these cranks from the furthest corner of a tiny country in Europe should have any influence whatsoever over any of the important decisions being taken there - which includes helping other European countries get out of their financial difficulties.

    Gavin Hewitt has only to look at his comments in the last previous posts to know what the solution to the Eurocrisis would be. Ban Credit Default Swaps, which allow everybody with influence to scare investors, and make billions for the people holding them.

    CDS need to be banned - together with any influence over "True Finns" over any European Policy.


  • Comment number 78.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 79.

    Finns had to deal with a severe recession and banking crisis in the 90s. They tightened their belts to get through it. This helps explain their strong aversion towards bailing out others.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_1990s_recession_in_Finland

    @BBC: Please stop calling them "Real Finns". It's a bad translation. Perussuomalaiset means Basic Finns or Ordinary Finns.

  • Comment number 80.

    @Gavin Hewitt
    "But, politically, Europe is restive, unsettled, anxious and increasingly losing patience with the elites and the parties in power. "

    We have had enough of panic reporting in Europe by journalists who seem to have their own agenda. That is the problem here.

    Can we please ban Credit Default Swap - and the tone of the European reporting in all the media would immediately be much more positive.

  • Comment number 81.

    David, just a short message; A - thank you for the Marylin songs B - I registered there; name you can figure out ;o))))) surname you can't forget it.
    But it didn't help :o))))) I looked so far at about 70 David S. (several look quite alright :o)))) but there is no end of them the system says Would you like to see more options? and opens another hundred.
    Let's sart tonarrow it; or example are you several people in the photo;o)))) or one, and is it a face or a distant view of a single fugure, and do you like sit or stand, or may be there are pictures of railways and sunsets there and dogs and cats and various signs?

  • Comment number 82.

    #54 mvr_512
    I noticed this post because I hadn't associated the EU with pension funds before. I believe it's a bit of a conspiracy theory to say that the EU wants to raid pension funds. It's much more likely private sector organisations would try to do that but the rules in most places prevent it now.

    What I did notice in the course of trying to understand that post was this article dated 12th April on the PensionsWorld website. Not my usual reading despite my advanced age. Its headline is EU rule changes could force firms to pay off pension deficits more quickly. A small sample (it's a big article): The European Commission has told the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) that it wants a revised Pensions Directive to require “consistent” recovery periods across all Member States. This might shorten permitted recovery plan lengths in the UK to bring them into line with those seen in other countries where companies have smaller defined benefit pension liabilities. If so, the Commission would need to consider what should happen where diverting more cash to the pension fund would threaten the future of the employer’s business.

    That means that - if this proposal becomes EU law - then for the sake of EU 'harmonisation' (a word I hold between thumb and index finger), some businesses may actually go bankrupt.

    I have a saying that 'if you give someone a job, they do it'. The EU bureaucracy, however small, is full of people doing jobs that don't need doing.

    I believe that this kind of stupidity, along with 'ever closer union' is what EU voters detest. That is the context in which bigger issues have beset the EU, i.e. that the Commission is a pettifogging, self-serving bureaucracy and its political wing dominated by ideologues of 'ever closer union'.

    The most recent manifestations of the EU for voters have been immigration issues; bailouts and to a lesser extent military involvement in the Libya, etc. crises.

    The military issue has been such a fiasco in EU terms that it hardly merits mention. No-one will think of the EU as a military entity for a long time to come after it.

    On immigration, there is intra-EU and extra-EU immigration. It has created a false argument. No-one can control intra-EU immigration except in the limited sense that accession treaties have permitted it. I would say that from a UK point of view, intra-EU immigration has been a success. Without it we would, I believe, be economically worse off.

    I take #72 Ulkomaalainen's point very well - I believe it's an excellent illustration. Nevertheless, the solution is effective education - with which the UK struggles with its emphasis on the academic rather than the practical - not immigration control, even if that were possible with intra-EU immigration.

    Extra-EU immigration is a problem. I also agree with #72 Ulkomaalainen that we need skilled immigrants from outside the EU, although that might also be seen as a failure of education. The problem is that while EU nations sort out the social impact of intra-immigration, I guess, regretfully, extra-EU immigration must be controlled by skills. There are also genuine asylum seekers to whom we must always advance a safe haven. There are many fewer of those than we have been led to believe, I think.

    Then there are the bailouts. While giving the appearance of organisation, they are as much of a fiasco as the military politics. There is obviously a gathering body of opinion in northern Europe against giving money to other countries. This in large part due to the recession, unemployment, etc.

    The eurozone was created politically as the bow wave of 'ever closer union'. It was like a political house price. The politicians who made it thought that EU political credit could only go up. They were wrong.

    We have areas and nations whose politics are dominated by historical conflicts. The American Republican party was created in part in opposition to slavery. In recent history, certainly the 1960s, the 'Southern Democrats' represented what was in many ways a more conservative view than the Republicans. They were Democrats because many southerners would not vote Republican because of that party's history with the south.

    The same kind of thing is true with Fianna Fail and Fine Gael in the Republic of Ireland and is very well demonstrated by the party alignments in Northern Ireland which is most stark because it is only just post conflict.

    Perhaps what we are seeing in the EU is the emergence of pro-EU and anti-EU politics as mainstream lines of political thought by themselves. It is hard to see the EU parliament as representative of political thought in the EU in this sense. They are national parties transplanted, with very different political ideologies from those needed EU-wide.

    If that is so then national politics will feature more debate on the EU and its role and I don't see how that can be a bad thing.

  • Comment number 83.

    """73. At 07:56am 19th Apr 2011, Ellinas wrote:...."""".... an epic message!

    """Hewitt's articles as clear, plain and simple anti - EU British propaganda can even be tolerated i.e. articles of the type:"""

    No! Why you say so!

    """I like European food so I decided to Russia over there because I was Hungary. After Czech'ing the menu I ordered Turkey. When I was Finnished I told the waiter 'Spain good but there is Norway I could eat another bite'."""

    He had to put some Greece on it then.

    """in order to decorate with more credibility his (Hewitt's) partisan framework story.
    ...Hasta la vista, Until then: "Don't Shoot Greece It's Only the EU-Piano Player..."""

    I missed all the fun a couple of theads ago. In the past period with so much "moderation" I could not even comment. Nontheless some of my texts on Libya (and even prior to the beginning of the crisis in Libya - starting with Tynisia and Egypt) almost two months ago (on the beginning of the crisis), were crystal clear: the whole upheaval and change of leaderships in Tynisia and in Egypt had in target to contain the development of the North African-EU traderoutes while the debut of the trouble in Libya had in target to isolate the country and as such we all saw the "free skies" operation that only aims to continue the civil war in Libya for many more weeks and maintain a constant trouble zone that of course cuts the trade links that were vigorously under development till 2011 (we are talking about huge contracts : only Italy, just one of their numerous contracts, would be of the order of 40 billion euros.... bad bad Libya...).

    Then for Greece, we had commented it all, still I saw people trying to calculate alphanumerically how Greece can cope with the debt. I wonder if people still have not learned what means the name Papandreou: Grandpa Papapandreou: comes from British-Egypt with British blessings to Greece as a self-acclaimed saviour and starts the civil war against the till then British-paid communists. US-instructed, US-married, US-citizen Papa Papandreou in the 60s radicalises politics and pushes dictators to rise, then returns as a politician-magician and governs for 8 + 2 years and immerses a till then fairly OK Greece into debt and corruption. US citizen Grandson Papandreou (learnt Greek as a foreign language with teachers, still at nearly 60 he struggles), came to Greece in the 80s for his first job (nothing much... just a ministry!!!), then in the late 90s under an (equally foreign) prime minister Simitis he became the minister of external affairs declaring at the same time that he is not interest in defending Greek interests but actually he is a fan of an "international governance", and then only 1,5 year after being declared the "worst coandidate" by his own party members, through a well funded (guess by whom) campaign and through "gray elections" (all elections since 2000 are gray in Greece to avoid using other terms....), he rises as prime minister. The day before he gets on top he had dinner at his Athens house (i.e. his summer house....) with Goldman Sachs directors.

    ... and some wish to state their what? Views on how to correct the situation?

    ""BTW Hewitt is absolutely right...Finland certainly rocks the EU...in a Eurovision "Lordi - Hard Rock Hallelujah" Déjà vu""

    Nowdays we are all heavy metal fans...

  • Comment number 84.

    Web Alice,

    I'm in kansas city,mo, went to park university, 53 yrs old ..look 48 (lol), my picture *in a brown leather jacket w/fringe and with pink shirt underneath ....work for US Treasury

    Oh what a day roday..IRS day..panicked poor people calling up desperate...

    Thank you for your efforts...im quite the boor when I preach to people here ...blah...

    But, am fun when it comes to fun things like movies, music and shopping online :))

    LOLOL

  • Comment number 85.

    Also, I'm sitting in my pic...um...my wall is mostly youtube.com or bejeweled based...and contrary to what it says on my page I'm Not in a relationship with this "jasonJason"...

    Who knows ..thot was confirming friendship ..ended up on the "virtual arm" of some not that great or inspiring Stranger...just know he is "full of" something..yuk...watch out for weird new friends!!! (after getting started)

    You could be just browsing and before you know it some strange person declares "lunacy on you."

  • Comment number 86.

    Also,Huamiek,

    dont take my comment to heart..today I'm sympathetic to the poverty stricken hordes..tomorrow I'll be cursing their existance--

    Are some people too..."challenged" or just sitting ducks for owing the govt big (huge) sums of money

    "too unintelligent to be made to pay taxes?"

  • Comment number 87.

    Well, I went to "the Devil's..." so maybe, Alice I'll figure you true name out:)))

  • Comment number 88.

    Finland does indeed 'Rock the EU'. I belive heavy metal is it's second religion. Nightwish, Children of Bodom to name a few. (and as someone mentioned Lordi I had a bet on that at 9/1 splendid) How can such a sparcely populated land produce so many great bands? Maybe a Finn could enlighten me, though maybe that is for another day...:)

    They may not come to power but it is fair to say the right are rising throughout Europe. I belive this is due to people fed up with being ignored on EU membership and Immigration.
    For instance all we get is a referendum on Voting. When most would like one on the EU Membership.

    I'll be voting no to AV, however if it wins (unlikey but you never know) when the BNP win seats (and they will) those who voted 'yes' had better keep their mouths firmly closed. Democracy will have spoken innit.

  • Comment number 89.

    Okay, ok!

    #74 & #78 were inexcusable.


    I apologise for any inference in 74 & 78 which may have given the mistaken impression I thought the author of 73 still attended school. On reflection and having read 73 a number of times now it is quite clear to me that whomever wrote 73 isn't attending any educational institution or sub-body of same. Indeed, it is now patently obvious after repeated MODERATION intervention that the 73 comment matches all the criteria for serious debate under the given House Rules.

    In the light of the Moderator setting me straight on what is legitimate contribution to these blogs I just want to conclude with this recounting of a recent Tom & Jerry cartoon I saw and how incredibly funny it was to see Tom cat chasing Jerry mouse until Jerry got the upper-hand by running up a drain-pipe and then dropping an anvil on Tom cat's emerging head... My, how we all did laugh...

    What has that to do with the article, you ask?

    Well if we take Tom as the staunch 'pro-EU' and Jerry as the tiny, desparate but full of bravura 'True Finn' then we clearly see the relative merits of each, don't we... much as in 73 which so graphically was right on the point of Mr Hewitt's article, wasn't it?

    Or, am I some-way, somehow missing the Moderator's viewpoint at this delicate juncture?

  • Comment number 90.

    people are unfairly blaming europe for the unemployment and other adverse effects on living standards caused by the fact that asia is becoming competitive (i.e. globalisation). Capital wins, employees lose. This is not commented on in the UK. Most of the things that are changing away from the steady lives our parents enjoyed are due to capital seeking higher returns in asia. The EU is unfairly blamed, and national governments seek to blame the EU too. This is not going to end well and it is downright unfair. Any sensible person can see that the EU is not responsible for immigration. The UN conventions on immigration govern that, and yet ask most brits and you get answers like "blooody EU bringing immigrants in here". The immigrants are then blamed for lower and lower salaries that are mostly due to the greed of the rich but also the lopsided and superficial economic model that doesn't really work.

  • Comment number 91.

    @45. At 19:30pm 18th Apr 2011, helsink1 wrote:
    “Finland has the smallest percentage of foreign-born population of all EU member states. Also the second generation is very tiny in numbers because of very limited immigration prior to 1993. The very small number of immigrants is one example of that "True Finns" is just a populist party. Their anti-immigration claims have very little grounds but the voters believe their claims about that immigrants would be occupying the country. Statistics etc don't inyerest these people (the voters), they elieve whatever the populists say. Anti-immigration claims are popular for example because of the general belief system: according to a 2003 attitude survey (N = a few thousand), some 30 percent of Finns believe that some "races" would be more intelligent than others, and more than a half believe that immigration would increase drug dealing. AIDS, riots etc in Finland. And unemployment, of course, just like Hitler said before exterminating foreigners of then Germany - Jews. The True Finns are ill, they have even determined what is art and what is not. It's all about making the Finnish voters believe they would be superior thsn sny other people in the world”.
    ……………………………………
    Has it not occurred to you that many Finns have looked over the border to Sweden and seen the “advantages” of mass immigration to towns like Malmo and decided that experience is one to avoid?
    I don’t think the True Finn vote is anything to do with making Finnish voters “believe they would be superior to any other people in the world” but all to do with making sure that Finland preserves their identity and does not repeat the mistakes of the liberal elites are making elsewhere in Europe and at the EU.
    And don’t you find it richly ironic that the EU, and its dream of an ever closer union, is in fact having the opposite effect as the nations of Europe fear losing their identity and turn to more nationalist parties? This is even happening in the heart of Europe in Belgium where the Walloons and the Flemish people are split on nationalist and linguistic fault lines and cannot even form a government. It is time to admit that moving to “an ever closer union” can only end up tearing Europe apart.

  • Comment number 92.

    I was leafing through the Green Party MP Osmo Soininvaaras blog last night. They were pondering what went wrong (loss of 1/3 of their seats). One of the comments there lit a bulb over my head. Finland has now two social democrat parties. The SDP (women and public sector workers) & True Finns (men, private sector workers & small entrepreneurs). I personally think that tougher stance on immigration from these low to middle income parties is perfectly rational. Their supporters are first to face competition from immigrants, whether in a job market or for the last remains of the welfare state. No state in their right mind will close borders from all immigrants, but if Nordic states want to preserve something from the economic model which used serve them quite well, they have to do something about it.

    As for the rescue plan. I think it is quite hard for the country which is currently financing quite large chunk of its budget by debt (Finland) to guarantee debts which are most likely go bad (just look at the PIIGS economics & demographics). Especially when the main beneficiaries are financial institutions, which have enjoyed the risk premiums, but are now unwilling to bear the risks. I as a Finn don't hold any resentment toward our South-European brothers, but I'm not willing to pay more taxes during bad times, when they have failed to collect them during the good times. Public debt is just taxation transferred into future and I'm living in a country which taxes its people quite heavily.

    My 2c

  • Comment number 93.

    As one of the voters of True Finns I have to add that despite some of the candidates riding on the immigration issue, most of the voters have been concerned about the EU payments.
    Also the blatant corruption of the center party got people to barricades because the illusion of Finland being a non-corrupt country became to a halt.
    It's always been known and it's just been labeled as "way of the country".

    I'm truly happy about the result and I don't think any other country has the right to start dealing "nazi cards" or saying they're sorry about it.
    This is how we voted and it should be respected.

  • Comment number 94.

    The founder of the Eu must turn in their grave it is now over 50 years from the sign of the treaty of Rome and the progress to the final aim never left the first gear and during the journey elementary mistake were made we let the Membership become to large before a ferm set of ground rule were establish as follow:
    1 You mast be 100% committed to the creation of one European state
    2 You must be 100% committed to the Euro
    3 You must be 100% committed to preserve the history - traditions and value of Europe.
    We created the Euro with out a central fiscal and taxation body.
    We still shackles to the USA on economic regulation and war creation.
    This need to be change with a blind speed, at the moment the majority of European politician have a vision like a mole if we wont European tradition - history and freedom to be here for our children and children children we must recreate the vision for Europe of founder father and once for all create one European state and government whit a proviso for the member which do no share the original aim to leave the Union.
    We people of Europe need the EU same as water and air.
    A European citizen.
    John Saguato

  • Comment number 95.

    @75 buzet23

    "The moment you said the Finns use the d'Hondt system I understood where the business as usual comment comes from, having lived in Belgium for over twenty years and knowing that this is the country that spawned that method of PR I've seen it faults at first hand. Lists rule the elections and the head of the lists are invariably failed or failing old politicians who run their parties (into the ground) and who can't let go. It takes an awful lot to get a change under the d'Hondt system as moribund stagnant politics with horse trading compromises are the best that can be hoped for. Look at Belgium, still without a government since June 13th last year. Therefore for a rise from 4% to 19% to be achieved the people must be really fed up."

    You correctly pointed out that the D`Hondt system usually discriminates against small parties. This only underlines the political views of the Finnish populace.

    And on a sidenote, there are other means to discriminate against small parties: e.g. a 5% hurdle to enter parliament. All votes given to parties who don`t manage to get at least 5% of votes are substracted out.
    In Germany, the percentage of votes substracted out is around 10-15% each time. Now, I have no doubt that the Sainte-Laguë method totally makes up for this. ":)"

  • Comment number 96.

    83. At 09:27am 19th Apr 2011, Nik wrote:

    "Then for Greece, we had commented it all, still I saw people trying to calculate alphanumerically how Greece can cope with the debt. I wonder if people still have not learned what means the name Papandreou: Grandpa Papapandreou: comes from British-Egypt with British blessings to Greece as a self-acclaimed saviour and starts the civil war against the till then British-paid communists. US-instructed, US-married, US-citizen Papa Papandreou in the 60s radicalises politics and pushes dictators to rise, then returns as a politician-magician and governs for 8 + 2 years and immerses a till then fairly OK Greece into debt and corruption. US citizen Grandson Papandreou (learnt Greek as a foreign language with teachers, still at nearly 60 he struggles), came to Greece in the 80s for his first job (nothing much... just a ministry!!!), then in the late 90s under an (equally foreign) prime minister Simitis he became the minister of external affairs declaring at the same time that he is not interest in defending Greek interests but actually he is a fan of an "international governance", and then only 1,5 year after being declared the "worst coandidate" by his own party members, through a well funded (guess by whom) campaign and through "gray elections" (all elections since 2000 are gray in Greece to avoid using other terms....), he rises as prime minister. The day before he gets on top he had dinner at his Athens house (i.e. his summer house....) with Goldman Sachs directors."


    That is so funny: Are you another writer of Tom & Jerry scripts?

    I see 2 Greek comments & 2 completely off the mainstream views. Is there a connection?

  • Comment number 97.

    @Gavin hewitt
    "Re-structuring would be "catastrophic". It's not on the table, one of them said. And yet clearly it is. It is being discussed everywhere. Why? Because no one can see how the bailed out countries can grow to the point they can pay down their debts"

    Restructuring debt would be catastrophic. I estimate a cost of 600 billion Euro, about 6% of GDP.

    (Have a look at Robert Peston's blog if you are interested how I arrived at the figures: It is #39

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/robertpeston/2011/04/could_germany_afford_irish_gre.html)

    The recipe is always the same. Get the rich and wealthy to pay back the state's debt. That will not harm the economy, as they do not spend the money anyway, but have in invested in bank accounts. According to the Greek finance ministry, 280 bn Euro is deposited in Swiss bank accounts alone, enough to pay back all the Greek debt.

    It will be similar in all European countries with problems. The rich and wealthy will have to pay.

    In fact, it should be the same in Britain.

  • Comment number 98.

    Can we get this into perspective, please:

    19% of the Finns voting for this party. That is about 500,000 people voting. That is 0.1% of European population which is against further aid to Europe. So one in a thousand voted against further aid to Europe.

    Probably because they have not heard of Credit Default Swaps - which are the real cause of this crisis. German papers are full with the dangers of these instruments, and British blogs highlight how greedy speculators are trying to take us to the cleaners with these products.

    If we had banned CDS, the Eurocrisis would have calmed down. And Finns would have voted differently.

  • Comment number 99.

    83 Nik,

    Very Droll, Heavy Metal fans indeed! That has put a very big smile on my face, Thank You.

  • Comment number 100.

    #95. At 10:32am 19th Apr 2011, DurstigerMann,

    I may stand to be corrected but I think the 5% hurdle is used in Belgium as well as the d'Hondt system of PR, I think it was why there was outrage a few years back when the Front National got some seats after getting 11% in the municipal elections. The mainline parties never ever expect a small party to threaten their monopoly, and since the A3 voting sheet is full of minor irrelevant parties it ensures that people stick to habit and vote for the moribund parties and then complain that corruption continues and nothing changes. When a small party does get more votes it shows how fed up the electorate are.

 

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