Advice to Finnish eurosceptics

This is another post inspired by the latest Eurobarometer survey on Finland (fi, PDF).

I've for some time wondered why the Finnish eurosceptics are entirely without political power even though public opinion in Finland isn't much different than those in Denmark and the UK. One theory I've come up with is that euroscepticism's political strength is partly due to opposition to immigration. Finland has comparatively few immigrants and opposition to immigration isn't a a particularly important political issue. Seven percent of Finns picked it in their top two problems out of a list of 15 issues, as opposed to a whopping 21 percent of EU25 citizens. My leading theory, however, is that the Finnish eurosceptics are a bit inept. Examining Finnish attitudes toward the EU offers support for the idea that eurosceptic parties are going about it the wrong way.

Dear aspiring eurosceptic party leader, since I'm a kind soul, I thought I'd give you some advice. Please read carefully.

39 percent of Finns think membership in the European Union is a good thing, 23 percent think it's a bad thing, and 38 percent think it's not good or bad. On the other hand 36 percent support development toward a political union whereas 50 percent are opposed. You should drop the opposition to EU membership per se. It's not a particularly popular stance and entirely unrealistic besides. Instead you should concentrate your efforts on opposing ever closer integration on every front except for security, environment, and trade. Basically, concentrate on the parts of the EU people don't like and co-opt the aspects voters view positively as something you too support.

11 percent of Finns support the constitution fully and 45 percent support it in part. That may sound bad to you, but Finns in general don't know much about the constitution and most don't have strong opinions on the issue. Few Finns (32%) believe their voice matters in the EU and you should try to keep things that way. Every time someone says the constitution increases democracy, note that what they're really talking about is moving political power from the Finnish government to foreign voters. Speak of the constitutional process as a part of a long-term trend toward a federal EU, where Finland would be little more than Europe's Wisconsin. Hope that no Wisconsinites are in the audience. Make it a habit to note that after the constitution passes, the European Union can override the Finnish government on important issues. Make sure that people understand that the new voting procedure, mainly the removal of the veto, will greatly diminish Finland's weight in European decision making. Demand a referendum; even some people who would vote for the constitution support that.

Oppose enlargement. It's another issue where you'll be in the majority. 53 percent of Finns oppose it and only 43 percent are in support. Try to avoid arguments about whether Turkey is European or not. It's pointless and not the real reason people are opposed. Instead speak vaguely but in serious tones about its economic situation - which is actually better than that of some members, but people don't need to know that - and talk at length about human rights abuses. Mention specifics. The racists won't care why you're opposed to Turkey's membership, just that you are, and this way you don't drive away respectable people.

Pick other issues that are important to Finnish eurosceptics. You're not going to win over many National Coalition Party supporters with your opposition to the EU, so forget about cutting taxes and allying militarily and anything else that smacks of the modern right. Turn your eyes toward the centre and the left, instead. Euroscepticism is strongest in Northern Finland, so copy the Centre on regional issues. One apparent driver of euroscepticism in the Nordic countries is the belief that the EU will hurt the welfare state, so your economic policies should probably be somewhere between the Left Alliance and the Social Democratic Party. Give Centrist and Social Democratic voters who think their party leadership has sold them out a chance to join you.

I hope this helps in building your eurosceptic party. Remember me when you get to the top.


Anonymous said...

This blog doesnt work you should tell who you are and what your agenda etc. finnish politics is enough boring alredy

Ari said...

Dear reader, if you find Finnish politics boring, I can see why a blog that has lots of posts about Finnish politics wouldn't work for you. I don't get the bit about telling what my "agenda" is, though, as I've been quite free with sharing my opinion on whatever topic I've written about. Is the lack of blatant partisanship really a problem? I'd like to think of it as a bonus.

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