The streets of Finland are paved with Euroscepticism.
After their failure to be included in a coalition government after their 'surprise' electoral success, the True Finns, a socially liberal but fiscally conservative party which campaigned almost entirely on an anti-bailout ticket have now accomplished the unthinkable; they, a Eurosceptic party according to mainstream European Union parties, have now displaced all other factions to become the single largest force in Finnish politics. That's according to YLE News, which says that their overall support has now reached almost a quarter of the national vote.
That doesn't look too fantastic, but in a country with a myriad of different parties each with a similar share of the electorate that's enough to put them five points ahead of the social democrats - and, even better, their failure to prevent Finnish involvement in the bailouts has actually seen them bouyed at the polls, with support rising so much since the election they are now actually ahead of the National Coalition - one of the member's of the country's current government, which is comprised of themselves and the Social Democrats.
It's also worth noting where those new voters come from: the Centre Party has lost half a percentage point since the election, to its lowest level of support in history, the Swedish People's Party saw a 0.2 per cent fall, the Green League is polling at 7.2 per cent, and the Christian Democrats fell to just 3.1%. Their fall corresponds almost exactly with the True Finn's rise. In other words, the True Finns are attracting votes from all the other centrist and right-wing parties in order to become a broad over-arching movement representing pretty much everything from disaffected liberals to staunch conservatives.
The European Union officials and national politicians who conspired to shut them out of power, wrongly thinking that they were a protest vote, have now been emphatically silenced. It comes after quite pathetic attempts to smear them as 'nationalists.' The people in Finland know a nationalist or fascist party when they see one; and this isn't one. It's not surprise that the usual scare stories have simply failed to work. Perhaps now the pro-EU faction might have to deal with them on even, equal terms, with logic and reason rather than insults. Because if the rise of the True Finns has shown us anything, it is that the effect of these insults and slurs are beginning to wear off: no longer does the word 'racist' seen any potential voters running for cover. Not even in small, cold Finland, a country with a fascist, Nazi-affiliated past, can be put off from voting for 'unconventional' parties merely on an accusation.
They want facts; they want a counter-argument. They want to know why they should pay for the failures of Greece and for the euro, and the reply 'because all opponents are Nazis' or some variant thereof will no longer do it. The failure of the European Union and its supporters to provide either of those things has cost it dearly; it has allowed the popular discontent since the coalition agreement was made - without the True Finns - to swell. Euroscepticism now dominates the Finnish political landscape.