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What is Finnish about the Finns Party? Political Culture and Populism
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What is Finnish about the Finns Party? Political Culture and Populism

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This presents, in a simplified and condensed form, my argument about the differences between rural and urban Finns Party candidates and shows the party in the context of a particularly Finnish …

This presents, in a simplified and condensed form, my argument about the differences between rural and urban Finns Party candidates and shows the party in the context of a particularly Finnish political culture, analyzed via Laurent Thévenot's justification theory. Presentation based on my Master's dissertation. Presented 18th December 2012 in a seminar "On Populism and Politics" by the Finnish Political Science Association.

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  • 1. What is Finnish about the Finns Party? Political Culture and Populism18.12.2012 Tuukka Ylä-Anttila / University of Helsinki 1
  • 2. Introduction• Argument – “Mainline” (SMP) vs. “Halla-aho faction”• Question: Geographical rural/urban division?• Hypothesis: – Rural PS “classical rural populism” (Ionescu & Gellner 1969, Canovan 1982…) – Urban PS “contemporary radical right (populism)” (Mudde 2007, Hainsworth 2008, Eatwell 2003…)18.12.2012 Tuukka Ylä-Anttila / University of Helsinki 2
  • 3. Theoretical framework• Politics in a cultural context• Justification theory (Boltanski & Thévenot 2006)• Public Justifications Analysis (PJA) (Luhtakallio & Ylä-Anttila 2011) – Public justification is raising the level of generality of an argument by appealing to a universal value – Different political cultures do this differently • Finland: Efficiency!18.12.2012 Tuukka Ylä-Anttila / University of Helsinki 3
  • 4. Examples• Case: Consolidating municipal administrations for efficiency (kuntaliitokset). – Locals: • No way! It’s our home with our traditions, where our ancestors lived. • No way! We need small-scale administrations to uphold local democracy. • No way! Your calculations are flawed, there would be no savings. – Typically Finnish! (Luhtakallio & Ylä-Anttila 2011) • No way! We don’t like it. We will defend our interests. – Not justifying: Not very successful in institutionalized politics, especially in Finland (Lonkila 2011, Luhtakallio 2012)18.12.2012 Tuukka Ylä-Anttila / University of Helsinki 4
  • 5. Data: HS VAA (Vaalikone)• Helsingin Sanomat Voting Advice Application (HS VAA), Vaalikone – 31 questions, calculates a compatibility percentage – free-text comments• 85% response rate (free-text, PS parliamentary candidates 2011) – 7 of 31 questions, ~200 double-spaced A4 sheets18.12.2012 Tuukka Ylä-Anttila / University of Helsinki 5
  • 6. Analysis I: Economic Redistribution and Social Justice18.12.2012 Tuukka Ylä-Anttila / University of Helsinki 6
  • 7. Quotes“Some have money up to their necks [”rahaa kuin roskaa”]while others struggle from week to week in food handoutqueues.” (M, 27, Kurikka, rural)“I don’t see differences in incomes as a signal of injustice assuch. The problem is not that some earn plenty, but that inlower income classes working doesn’t pay off because oftaxation and because of income redistribution funded bytaxes. Working should always and in all circumstances beprofitable. I believe it is good that a person can get wealthyby honest work […] This should not be prevented byunduly hard taxation.” (M, 39, Helsinki, urban)18.12.2012 Tuukka Ylä-Anttila / University of Helsinki 7
  • 8. Analysis III: Globalization18.12.2012 Tuukka Ylä-Anttila / University of Helsinki 8
  • 9. Quotes”Here we are again supporting porker banks andtheir henchmen [”syöttöporsaspankkeja ja niidentakapiruja”]. Cannot go on like this.” (M, 56, Salo,urban)“Bailout package policy is not just ethically wrong,it is also bad economic policy. [...] Greece shouldhave been let go bankrupt, which it eventually willanyway.” (M, 24, Espoo, urban)18.12.2012 Tuukka Ylä-Anttila / University of Helsinki 9
  • 10. So far…• “Rationalizing” justifications based on (economic) efficiency typical of Finnish politics: “This is the most efficient option, thus best.”• Also ”people vs. elite” populist dichotomies• Urban right-wing market liberalist faction• Rural respondents favour populist justification18.12.2012 Tuukka Ylä-Anttila / University of Helsinki 10
  • 11. How about these quotes about Suvivirsi?“If Finns have to look at the religious dress of muslims and thesubordination of women under the guise of religion, so we can withoutworry sing suvivirsi once a year! IS THIS QUESTION SOME SORT OFJOKE???” (F, 53, Helsinki, urban)“Totally unbelievable that someone would even question this.” (M, 57,Espoo, urban)“Give me a break!! [“No huh huh!!”]” (M, 45, Kouvola, urban)• Are these candidates attempting to “justify their position by appealing to a common, universal value the other party of the dispute can acknowledge”? …No.18.12.2012 Tuukka Ylä-Anttila / University of Helsinki 11
  • 12. ”Commonplaces”• Something of their own has been insulted – Limits of justification• ”Cultural commonplaces” (Thévenot 2011)• Feeling of belonging• This is typical of populism! – ”Kyllä kansa tietää” – ”At last a party that speaks straight about things”• Gap between populist politicians and established mainstream politicians: they speak different languages (or use different grammars of commonality (Thévenot)) – The idea of politics as rational public discussion to reach consensus is challenged18.12.2012 Tuukka Ylä-Anttila / University of Helsinki 12
  • 13. Conclusions• Rural/urban division: – Most rural candidates and many urban candidates seem even left-populist on economic policy – Radical right-wing faction consists of urban (male!) candidates• Justification: – In the Finnish context, even populists tend to ”rationalize” – However, in nationalist populist argumentation, public justifications are thrown aside and there are emotional appeals to cultural commonplaces. This is a real challenge to consensus.• Analyzing populism with a justification theory framework needs much further thought but can be fruitful, I argue.18.12.2012 Tuukka Ylä-Anttila / University of Helsinki 13
  • 14. Bibliography• Boltanski, Luc & Thévenot, Laurent 2006: On Justification: Economies of Worth. Princeton University Press.• Borg, Sami (ed.) 2012: Muutosvaalit 2011. Oikeusministeriön selvityksiä ja ohjeita 16/2012. Oikeusministeriö (Ministry of Justice).• Lonkila, Markku 2011: Yhteisyyden kieliopit helsinkiläisessä ja pietarilaisessa kaupunkiaktivismissa. Sosiologia 48(1), 22–33.• Luhtakallio, Eeva 2012: Practicing Democracy. Local Activism and Politics in France and Finland. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.• Luhtakallio, Eeva & Ylä-Anttila, Tuomas 2011: Julkisen oikeuttamisen analyysi sosiologisena tutkimusmenetelmänä. Sosiologia 48(1), 34–51.• Rahkonen, Juho 2011: Perussuomalaisten ruumiinavaus. Onko työväen protestipuolueen kannatus saavuttanut vielä ylärajaansa? Yhteiskuntapolitiikka 76(4), 425–435.• Thévenot, Laurent 2011a: Oikeutettavuuden rajat. Yhteiselämää koossapitävät sidokset ja niiden väärinkäyttö. Sosiologia 48(1), 7–21.• Thévenot, Laurent 2011b: Power and oppression from the perspective of the sociology of engagements: a comparison with Bourdieu’s and Dewey’s critical approaches to practical activities. Irish Journal of Sociology 19(1), 35–67.• Wiberg, Matti (ed.) 2011: Populismi. Kriittinen arvio. Helsinki: Edita.• Ylä-Anttila, Tuukka 2012: What is Finnish about The Finns Party? Political Culture and Populism. Master’s thesis, University of Helsinki.18.12.2012 Tuukka Ylä-Anttila / University of Helsinki 14