Yannick Lahti on “The impact of the Russia–Ukraine war on right-wing populism in Finland”

Lahti, Yannick & Palonen, Emilia. (2023). “The impact of the Russia–Ukraine war on right-wing populism in Finland.” In: The Impacts of the Russian Invasion of Ukraine on Right-wing Populism in Europe. (eds). Gilles Ivaldi and Emilia Zankina. European Center for Populism Studies (ECPS). March 8, 2023. Brussels. https://doi.org/10.55271/rp0018

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As Finland’s neighbour, Russia, attacked its neighbour, Ukraine, the response across the political spectrum in Finland was universal. All the parties underscored the importance of patriotism and sovereignty and messages of solidarity and support for Ukraine (alongside condemnation of Russia). Support for Putin or the war is basically non-existent in Finland. Still, the Finns Party (FP), which is part of the populist Radical Right milieu in Finland, polls extremely well. Moreover, groups combining anti-COVID-19 measures with pro-Putin leanings have registered as political parties in preparation for elections in spring 2023. Still, their combined support is in single digits. The concrete consequences of the war include a U-turn in foreign policy from long-standing neutrality to NATO membership, with all parties—including the FP—supporting the government’s pending application to join alongside neighbouring Sweden. Interestingly, as the conflict heated up in early 2022, “Niikkogate”—a scandal in which a parliamentary committee chair from the FP was replaced after tweeting pro-Kremlin sentiments—has indicated the degree of pro-Ukraine support across the political spectrum.

Keywords: Finns Party (FP); Finland; Russia–Ukraine war; populist Radical Right; digital counterpublics; disinformation.

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