rise of the European far right will have their eyes trained on Finland this Sunday, as that country holds a national election. According to recent opinion polls the Finnish nationalist party the "True Finns" could ride a wave of populist fervor to unprecedented electoral success on Sunday.
A Gallup poll last month put the True Finns in second place at 18.3% of the vote, just behind the ruling centre-right National Coalition Party. Led by MEP Timo Soini, the party has all the ingredients of today's far right in Europe: anti-immigration, anti-EU and pro-nationalism. They also display all the anomalies of today's far right: pro social welfare (but for ethnic Finns only), relatively pro gay rights, and working hard to project a respectable, PR-friendly image.
It is the same formula that has led to success for the Sweden Democrats in neighboring Sweden, the Danish People's Party in Denmark, the Freedom Party in the Netherlands, the National Front in France and the British National Party in the UK. And in the same way as all of these other countries, the main parties of Finland have been working to co-opt much of the far right's message in order to blunt their electoral impact.
No matter how many parliament seats the True Finns manage to win on Sunday, the fact that they have been so successful means that the main parties of Finland who will eventually form a government are likely to take on some of their messages. This means Finland is likely headed for a turn toward nationalist politics and euroscepticism. The emergence of a Finland that starts to closer resemble its eurosceptic Scandinavian neighbors could have a big effect on the EU and particularly on the eurozone.