True Finns

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Template:Infobox Finnish Political Party True Finns or Perussuomalaiset is a populist party in Finland. The Finnish Agrarian Party was founded in 1959 and renamed to the True Finns in 1995, the year Finland joined the European Union.

The founder of the party was Veikko Vennamo, leader of a faction in the Agrarian League (which was renamed to Centre Party in 1965). The relations of Veikko Vennamo and Urho Kekkonen were icy at best, and after Kekkonen was elected president in 1956 Vennamo decided to start a party on his own.

The Agrarian Party started as a protest movement, with support from small farmers and the unemployed. The main carrying force was Vennamo, who was charismatic, a good orator and a skilled negotiator. The Agrarian Party sometimes even managed to join the cabinet. Vennamos son, Pekka Vennamo, became the party leader when his father retired. Vennamo Junior had neither the charisma nor the oratory skills of his father. Other parties noticed this, and and the Agrarian Party was taken again into the cabinet. A protest movement without a charismatic leader, burdened with ministers participating in unpopular coalitions, the party gradually lost its support.

Agricultural changes proved hard for small farmers, who sold their farms and moved to the cities. Communists and Social Democrats were more credible alternatives for the unemployed. Finally, the declining support of Agrarian Party forced Vennamo Junior to resign. Some of the members of parliament joined the Centre Party and others retired with Vennamo.

After this, the party has been trying build a new base. The populist movement is currently anti-establishment and anti-immigrant. In the 2003 parliamentary elections, the party gained three seats. This minor victory has been attributed to the oratory skills of the party leader Timo Soini and the personal charisma of the showfighter Tony Halme.

See also: Politics of Finlandfi:Perussuomalaiset fr:Perussuomalaiset

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