The right-wing Finns Party has declared it will oust the vice chairman of its youth wing, Toni Jalonen, due to incompatible statements made at a conservative event in Tallinn, Estonia, when he declared himself a fascist.
At the Etno Futur conference, Jalonen called himself “an ethnonationalist, traditionalist, and fascist”, to the applause of the public.
In response, Finns Party secretary, Simo Grönroos, confirmed that a process of dismissal will be launched.
“There is no place for such acts in the civilian movement. We will address this at the next party board meeting”, Grönroos said, as quoted by national broadcaster Yle.
Jalonen later said that he stood by his statement, but stressed that his words represented him and not the Finns Party youth organisation.
The chairman of the party's youth wing, Asseri Kinnunen, issued a partial condemnation of his colleague's statement, saying it does not represent the official position of the organisation. While calling the statement “careless and stupid”, he stressed that the Young Finns were a “nationalist movement” that influenced parliament and democracy.
Nevertheless, Finns Party leader Jussi Halla-aho stressed that such statements will not be tolerated by anyone using the Finns Party logo.
“No, and over the past two years, the party has repeatedly made it clear to the youth organisation that fascist and national socialist policies have no place in the Finns Party. Neither do we approve of even independent youth groups making such statements in the name of the Finns Party”, Halla-aho said.
Halla-aho also repudiated any link to fascism.
“The Finns Party has no more a special connection to fascism than any other party. The party leadership has made it clear, both internally and publicly, that fascist and national socialist policies have no place in the Finns Party”, Halla-aho said.
According to Halla-aho, the youth organisation is in the process of toughening its rules, which would allow party members to intervene in case of unacceptable statements.
In response, eight party youth wings, including those of the National Coalition Party and the Centre Party pledged to disrupt any cooperation with the Young Finns, stressing that fascism has no place in Finnish politics.
'@KOLry ja @Keskustanuoret kieltäytyvät kaikesta yhteistyöstä @PS_Nuoret kanssa, niin kauan kuin järjestö ei siivoa riveistään fasisteja ja etnonationalisteja.#fasismi #demokratia https://t.co/BkJsVsqq6F pic.twitter.com/0PXeKjigI1— Keskustaopiskelijat (@KOLry) February 24, 2020
This is not the first time the Young Finns have landed in hot water. In late 2018, they sparked a controversy by posting a revisionist map of “desired” territories that included parts of Karelia and the Kola Peninsula, which historically belonged to Russia, but were briefly ruled by Finland during the interwar period.
In the summer of 2018, the Ministry of Education and Culture announced it was terminating government funding of €115,000 (nearly $125,000) for its later-deleted tweet depicting a dark-skinned family captioned “Vote Finns, if you don't want Finland to look like this”.
The Ministry of Education and Culture pledged to look into Jalonen's statement and see whether it would lead to disciplinary action as well. This year, the group is slated to receive € 91,000 ($99,000).
Despite the controversies, however, the Finns Party continues to have a commanding lead in the polls at 23.3 percent, being the largest opposition party and edging out its nearest rivals with about 5 percent.