Sampo Terho, who is deemed to be Soini's most likely successor, officially announced his candidacy and started his run for leadership by stating that Finland's membership in the Eurozone caused its exports to be less competitive. According to Terho, the most efficient remedy to this problem was to ditch the euro in order to return to the national currency, the markka, Finnish national broadcaster Yle reported.
The Finns Party argued that Finland, like its neighbor Sweden, should be able to independently devalue its currency to boost exports. Terho also said that the Finns members need to decide on their position regarding a possible referendum on whether or not Finland should continue its membership in the EU.
This idea is not entirely unfamiliar for the Finns Party. In the aftermath of Brexit, a petition for a UK-style popular vote was launched by the Finns Party's youth wing leader Sebastian Tynkkynen, yet failed to gather the number of votes necessary to be taken up in parliament. Remarkably, though, the Finns' outgoing leader and Finland's incumbent Foreign Minister Timo Soini, who is known for running for presidency with a slogan "Where there is EU, there is a problem," made it clear that no Fixit vote would be held under the current government.
Needless to say, the Finns Party came under fire for their criticism of the EU. Finnish veteran politician and vice chairman of the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee Pertti Salolainen questioned the Finns' presence parliament after their EU gambit.
"We are talking about Foreign Minister's government party. It is unacceptable that they should weaken Finland's foreign policy position in this way," a critical Pertti Salolainen said, as quoted by the Finnish daily Hufvudstadsbladet.
So far, however, Terho remains the tipped winner in the race for the Finns' chairmanship. A recent poll by the Finish broadcaster MTV found that 60 percent of party activists supported Terho, as opposed to only 22 percent for his closest competitor, MEP Jussi Halla-aho. Terho is known to take more moderate positions than Halla-aho, who bluntly pledged to take Finland out of the Eurozone and the EU. The fate of the Finns' leadership will be decided in June.
The Finns Party, previously known as the True Finns, rose from obscurity in the late 2000s. It has since softened its harsh anti-EU rhetoric, which helped the party enter government, yet also scared away its most hardline voters. Former Finns leader Soini did not dodge responsibility for such an outcome and suggested that his party may have come to an end of its winning streak.
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