Centre's Korhonen proposes merger with True Finns

In an interview with Helsingin Sanomat (fi), Centre Party secretary Jarmo Korhonen proposed a merger between his party and the True Finns. Korhonen thinks the united party could get a support of over 30 percent. Quoth Korhonen, "The True Finns and Centre should be able to look at their common history. Both are centrist parties that have the same ideological background and ideological father, Santeri Alkio." Of the current True Finns leader, Korhonen says, "I appreciate Timo Soini; he's a professional of rhetoric and politics. He speaks for the poor people." There's no set schedule. "I don't expect an answer from Soini at this stage. It's a longer development."

The proposal makes perfect sense from Korhonen's point of view. In intraparty disputes the True Finns would be natural allies to Korhonen's rural wing of the party against the now dominant more urban wing led by Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen. For example, Korhonen thinks the government should do more to defend Finnish interests inside the EU, citing France and Poland as models to follow. Also, under the current system being the biggest party is highly valuable as it gives the inside track in forming a government and capturing the office of Prime Minister. Even a three percent boost in support would increase the Centre's position in its competition against the National Coalition Party and the Social Democratic Party.

So why isn't it happening right now? For one thing, the True Finns have been denouncing the Centre, the Coalition, and the Social Democrats as "Huey, Dewey, and Louie", three sides of the same coin. They can't very well merge with one of the interchangeable big three without it looking like a betrayal of everything for which they've campaigned in recent years. By the same token, the Vanhanen wing of the Centre will not like the proposal very much. If the extreme Centrists - people like Korhonen, Foreign Trade Minister Paavo Väyrynen, etc - would gain control of the party and first take it to a more eurosceptic and economically populist direction, then it would become a possibility depending on how willing to sell out the leading True Finns would be at that point.

In my opinion Korhonen's evaluation of over 30 percent of support is much too big. The Centre/Agrarian League plus the True Finns/Rural Party have never gotten more than 30 percent of the vote. The closest they got was 29.7%, in 1991. In all other parliamentary elections since the split they've had between 21 percent and 28 percent of the vote. Going over 30 percent would require them to retain nearly all of their current support plus draw in several percentage points worth of new support. It's more likely that whatever gains they'd make would be offset by losses among current supporters. The Centre has voters who prefer Vanhanen's line to Korhonen's and a part of the True Finns' appeal is that they're outsiders.

1 comment:

egan said...

This is the kind of stuff you should be writing elsewhere too. Will you answer your email?