14:48 GMT29 October 2020
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    Despite criticism from fellow politicians, including Prime Minister Juha Sipilä, Ville Tavio's party, the Finns, has refused to disavow the statement about the "fascist" nature of European federalism.

    Finnish MP Ville Tavio from the right-wing nationalistic Finns party has stirred a major uproar in his country by comparing the European Union with Nazi Germany during a parliamentary debate.

    "Federalists are threatening the people of Europe and the nation state. They create a new kind of Soviet Union, they create a new Nazi Germany", Tavio said, as quoted by Finnish national broadcaster Yle. Tavio went on to suggest that the EU;s globalisation was a "new form of fascism", which the Finns were unaware of when they voted to join the EU in the 1990s.

    Tavio's statement sparked a major debate, with politicians on both sides of the political spectrum reacting strongly.

    Finnish Prime Minister and the leader of the Centre Party, Juha Sipilä, called this statement "extremely derogatory", adding that it was also "deprecating Nazi atrocities and their victims". Sipilä also urged the Finns, formerly a sidekick to the centre-right government, to retract the statement.

    "Now, this has gone way beyond the limit of what I have heard being said in this hall earlier. I'm waiting for the Finns to react. Do they accept this comparison?" Annti Lindman Social Democrats group chairman, said, as quoted by Yle. "Nazi Germany was about massacring millions of people, and starting WWII, in which tens of millions died. The entire EU was founded so that this could never happen again", Lindman clarified.

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    However, the Finns party chose to side with Tavio.

    "I understood it in the way that Tavio was aiming at the EU's megalomania, that nothing is ever enough. He didn't offend any person in particular, but criticised the entire institution as such", Leena Meri, Finns group chairperson, said.

    The Finns, formerly known as the True Finns, which is still their name in both of Finland's official languages, Finnish and Swedish, are a right-wing nationalist and EU-sceptical party. In the past parliamentary election of 2015, they scored 17.65 percent of the vote, becoming a junior government party together with the Centre and the National Coalition Party.

    In 2017, the Finns suffered a bitter schism following a change of leadership. After the election of Jussi Halla-aho as party leader, several prominent Finns politicians, including party founder and incumbent Foreign Minister Timo Soini and fellow ministers, seceded and formed the Blue Reform party. The split allowed them to retain their government posts, whereas the Finns returned into to opposition. In the latest survey, the Finns polled 9.8 percent, which is half of their best electoral performance.

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