General elections in Finland rarely secure much coverage across mainstream European media, but the results of – and fallout from – the poll earlier this month deserve detailed inspection. They may yet have substantial ramifications for the rest of the European Union, particularly on the increasingly fraught bailout strategy.
The surprise 'winners' of the April 17 poll were the True Finns party, a rather ragtag group with a mixture of socially conservative and economically left-wing policy objectives. They saw their parliamentary representation rocket from five to 39 seats in the 200 strong parliament.
The intriguing question is whether the True Finns' staunch opposition to bailouts of eurozone countries in trouble will be enough to actually persuade the Finnish government to exercise veto powers in the weeks ahead. Very often, of course, smaller EU countries with an apparently radical agenda end up falling in line with the mainstream. For example, Vaclav Klaus, the Czech president, eventually signed the Lisbon Treaty in November 2009, despite his firmly eurosceptic views.
So the impact of the True Finns on the future of bailouts may yet turn out to be little more than rhetorical. But if they do start to exert real influence on this crucial area of policy, there will be a lot of free market liberals – hardly their most natural bedfellows – cheering them on.
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