This European Election in Finland Free Markets Are Threatened Not Only by Radical Left and Right but also by the Centre

by Aapo Warjovaara

Amidst the most important European election in history, the legacy media in Finland anticipates an upcoming victory for the newly rising right.  While this prediction is by no means wrong, it is not only the strengthened right that threatens liberty on the European level. Shifting all the blame on the populist left also mises a vital part of the story. A major danger lies in the fact that it is the centre that has abandoned the idea of liberty.  

To understand the newest threats on the European political scene, one must go back over a decade to the time the United States was hit by the financial crisis of `08.  The cascade of bankruptcies led the EU into an economic crisis like no other since the 1930s. The economic turmoil that followed the subprime mortgage crisis almost led to the destruction of the Eurozone. Almost, as during the so-called “Euro crisis” of the 2010s, the unholy and thus mostly unacknowledged alliance was forged between the centre-right and centre-left of Europe. To maintain Eurozone and European unity, politicians on the right and left concocted together multiple stimulus packages with elusive names and elaborate purposes. 

First of these – the European Financial Stability Facility – had the primary purpose of stabilizing the economies in the crisis countries. After the storm passed, EFSF was transformed into the European Stability Mechanism in 2012. EFSF had been sold to the public as a temporary solution to the Euro crisis, but soon the temporary became permanent through an alteration of the European Union treaties. Fast forward to 2021 when the COVID-19 crisis brought about the European Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) As a stimulus package RRF was meant to help member states recover from the shock of COVID-19. The key goals listed in the RRF also included funding green transition, strengthening the economies of member states for possible future crises and furthering digital transition on all levels of society. In 2022 RRF redistributed approximately 113 billion euros gathered from the taxpayers in the member states. Over the years the EU has moved so far from its original purpose that many of its founding values have completely disintegrated. So is the case of its service as a free trade area, that can no longer be considered quite free. 

The slow movement towards an “ever-larger European Union” has been widely supported by the centre, centre right and centre left in Finland. During the parliament`s RRF vote in the spring of 2021, 39 out of 40 Social Democrats MPs, 27 out of 30 Centre Party MPs and 26 out of 38 National Coalition MPs voted in favour of the bill. Only the nationalist Finns Party voted unanimously against the motion. Interestingly this European election, polls are promising one extra seat to both National Coalition and Social Democrats. This however does not mean that support for the EU has grown, but is rather a result of an increase in Finnish seat allocation in European Parliament from 13 to 15 after Brexit. Do not be under any illusion – the Finns Party does not represent libertarianism. Although the party leader Riikka Purra has moved their economic policy slightly more to the right and they are against the EUs reckless fiscal policy, which threatens the economic freedoms of the member states, they remain terrible on all the other policy issues. A similar trend can be seen with other parties affiliated with the Finns Party in the European Conservatives and Reformists parliamentary group. They may seek halting the regulatory fever at the EU level, but abandon care for liberty everywhere else. 

The question that libertarians across Europe should be asking themselves is how the new, conservative right manages to attract so many voters to their anti-EU platform. While libertarians in Finland such as Liberaalipuolue – Vapaus Valita, do not oppose the European Union itself, their agenda regarding the EU is very similar to that of the Finns Party. Both groups want to halt the increase of the EU`s power, limit the distribution of wealth between the member states and end the irresponsible fiscal policy conducted by the European Parliament and the Commission. As of now libertarians in the EU will not be gaining any seats this election anywhere apart from possibly Portugal. In my opinion, this is the result of bad messaging. While almost everyone who follows politics knows what libertarians are selling, we have not given them yet a reason to buy it. In Finland, Liberaalipuolue and its members can tell you how they would revolutionize the entire society but have no idea what they would do on the first day in power. The Finns party have managed to sell their ideas in this regard better. 

From the short-sighted perspective, the new right might conveniently torpedo some of the regulatory hurdles threatening the economic well-being of EU citizens. Their threat to liberty does not reveal itself in their economic agenda.  However, many of the parties that could come to power spread perilous ideas on the personal freedom front. The Law and Justice party in Poland is fiercely anti-abortion. Under its rule women lost legal access to abortion, forcing them to travel abroad for that purpose. Fidesz the party that has its grip on Hungary has been rightly labeled “Putin`s best friend in Europe.” Unlike libertarians, the new right won`t preserve and further the cause of liberty in the European Parliament. The most likely scenario is that they will drive their disastrous conservative agenda, until the centre party groups unite to stop them. The final result? We will get a stable majority for new stimulus packages that will wreak havoc on the European economy.  The centre parties will once again unleash the money-grabbing tentacles of Brussels. And as the past has told us: give an inch to Brussels and they will take the rest.

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