An up-and-coming leader of Finland’s only Eurosceptic party has proposed a national referendum on leaving the European Union as well as on abandoning the euro in favor of a national currency.
Sampo Terho, a former member of the European Parliament and one of the top figures of the new populist and Eurosceptic party called Peerussuomalaiset (the True Finns, or just the Finns), is pushing for Finland’s exit from the Eurozone, an outcome he considers inevitable.
Terho is the current frontrunner in his bid for Finn party chairmanship in the upcoming party convention to be held in June. The Finn party is presently the junior partner in the center-right government led by Prime Minister Juha Sipila, with Finn’s current leader, Timo Soini, in the role of foreign minister.
Within the ranks of Perussuomalaiset, calls for a “Fixit” (coined to mimic “Brexit”) as well as a disentanglement from the single euro currency are growing louder. Terho’s chief competitor for leadership in the party comes from Jussi Halla-Aho, a member of the European Parliament (MEP), a Eurosceptic who believes that Europe is heading towards a disaster because of unchecked immigration.
Terho has argued that from an economic point of view, Finland’s detachment from the euro is imperative. “The only way to support our competitiveness is an internal devaluation, and we have already done that,” Terho said recently, suggesting that Finland cannot be economically competitive while anchored to the euro.
Finland is the only country in the Nordic Community (also comprising Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland) to be a member of the Eurozone. Notably, it is also the only Nordic country facing severe economic and social problems, including weak growth after years of recession, unemployment well higher than in surrounding countries, and social tensions.
“The alternative option, looking to 2020, 2030 or 2040, is a return to the national currency,” Terho said. “When we take this long view, that option seems possible, even likely.”
The euro is suffering similar rethinking in various sectors throughout Europe. One need think only of the Czech Republic’s recent announcement to break away from the fixed parity between the euro and Czech koruna, as well as Sunday’s first round of French elections, which have sent Eurosceptic Marine Le Pen to the final runoff in June against progressive Emmanuel Macron.
Terho has called for a national referendum for or against the stay in the European Union itself, which he suggested should be discussed during the campaign for the upcoming parliamentary elections, scheduled for 2019.
Currently, polls indicate that some 68 percent of Finnish voters favor remaining in the EU.
The youth organization of the Finns party launched a “Fixit” petition last June following Britain’s referendum vote to leave the EU, but at the time the proposal was unable to garner the 50,000 supporters required to justify the referendum.
Sebastian Tynkkynen, head of the Finns Party Youth, said at the time that the group’s next goal was to make a Fixit referendum the main campaign demand for the party in Finland’s next general election in 2019.
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