It’s the story, stupid! Timo Soini, Jussi Halla-aho and the battle for the story of the Finns Party
Keywords:populism, storytelling, Finns Party, narrative, discourse
What role does storytelling play in right-wing populist parties? With a focus on the Finns Party and its leaders Timo Soini (1995–2017) and Jussi Halla-aho (2017–2021), this article depicts the narrative struggle that ensued when the Finns Party joined government in 2015 and exposes the challenges populist storytellers face when engaged in governing coalitions. Whereas Soini argued in favour of joining government and actively participating in broad, consensus-based policymaking, Halla-aho focused on directly challenging government by targeting migration as a key concern for party voters. These tensions culminated in the breakup of the party, where a small faction continued in government until 2019 while the mother party returned to the opposition. A storytelling perspective shows the importance of a credible truth-telling narrative in understanding far-right populist electoral success and demonstrates the challenges government responsibility presents for populist narrative credibility.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Markus Ketola, Johan Nordensvärd
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