Former and current female politicians from the True Finn party spoke out about the anti-women atmosphere of a lot of the True Finn party workers. The problems are evident in all electoral constituencies.
Women interviewed say that especially active and outspoken women are in risk of getting into trouble, for disagreeing with the official party line. The party leadership has denied the allegations. You'll remember a previous blog post about Sirkka-Liisa Lamminkoski, a True Finn woman who was pressured into relinquishing her party membership for disagreeing with the True Finn leadership about Modern Art of all things. Five women were interviewed for the MTV3 story.
Haataja: I got made a target of mud slinging
Seija Haataja was a True Finns candidate from the parliamentary election 2007. She thinks she didn't get the support of the Nyland constituency True Finns for her campaign but was instead left to fend for herself. This was mainly due to her positive approach to foreigners.
-In the True Finn party a woman is expected to either submit or be quiet. Otherwise the only way is to rebel and you can guess how that is going to turn out. Troublemakers are either expelled or quit the party themselves, says Haataja.
Haataja, a council member in Vantaa, didn't quit immediately after her failed campaign, but thought about it long and hard. Last spring she joined the Social Democratic party and according to her, got hateful replies from former comrades in internet discussion pages.
-I've let the comments slide because I dislike fighting windmills. I know I'm not the only woman who has faced this treatment in the True Finn party.
Virtala: One is not Allowed to Talk of Problems:
Satu Virtala's decision to quit the True Finn party is a recent one. She quit the party in February, because she was not put up as a candidate from the Kyme constituency. She thinks the decision was unfair.
-There was clearly a good ol' boy network at work behind the decision. A few men have handled themselves in an extremely dubious and calculating way. My family has been threatened, and lies have been told about me behind my back.
According to Virtala, the male members of the True Finns are allowed to have opinions and do things that would not pass for a female member.
-I don't understand why a woman needs to be a Mother Theresa, or a Virgin Mary, whilst the men are allowed to have any opionions about anything they like. It feels as if the party only allows such women to progress who toe the male party members' line.
Virtala says she has heard of other women who have been expelled from the party due to dissenting opinions.
-One shouldn't really discuss these kind of things before the election. Perhaps later on along the way, things will change, Virtala wishes.
Timonen: I no longer wear my True Finn Armband
Virtala's fellow sister from the Kyme district, Eliisa Timonen is still a party member. She did forfeit her candidacy for the True Finn party not too long ago, though.
-There is no shred of the old True Finn philosophy left in the Kyme district. It feels like the will to power has blinded the eyes of everyone and they are only looking out for number one, Timonen says.
She feels she has been pushed aside several times, when the party has distributed council responsibility.
-It feels as if we're in the dark middle ages. I'm honing my skills as a coffee maker, but have no chance to develop as a political animal. My voters have been left disappointed.
Timonen is not sure if she will run in the next municipal elections. Even though the local constituency has been personally disappointing to her, she still trusts the party leadership.
Lamminkoski: I have never seen such dictatorship
Sirkka-Liisa Lamminkoski, a candidate from the True Finn Vaasa constituency recently criticised the party's cultural political line, and was quickly given a talking to by the party brass.
-It was like an obedience school. I was told I can not have my own opinions, and that I must stop writing for newspapers. I have never heard of such dictatorship in Finnish politics before. I've been a True Finn member for 10 years and the atmosphere has been very free, up to this point, Says Lamminkoski.
Lamminkoski refuses to back down from her opinions, and the dispute has been continued in several newspapers and on the internet, where party members have screamed for Lamminkoski's head, calling for her immediate expulsion from the party.
-Behind the calls for my quitting the party is election tactics and the whole thing smacks of little boys being mad at someone messing with their sandbox games. Truth is though, come at a woman from Ostrobothnia screaming and it's all petrol into the flames, Lamminkoski says.
Lamminkoski and the party brass' argument has caught the attention of other female party members. She has gotten a lot of calls from women who say they've been thrown under the bus. They've sympathised with her and asked how she's handling it all. A lot of them have said they are afraid to take a stand on the issues within the party, if they are actually in an elected office or running for one.
Lamminkoski does not blame the whole of the True Finn party or party leader Timo Soini.
-It is sad, though if we lose out on female talent because of this. We can't afford to lose the female vote, Lamminkoski says.
Puolakka: Straight up male chauvinism
Ritva Puolakka, says the True Finns are 'No different from the old parties they rage against'.
-I thought the party was for freedom of speech. Turns out there is a hierarchy where your opinions only matter in relation to who you kiss up to and how good you are at it.
She left the True Finn party, because she was a target of lies and rumour-mongering in the Oulu constituency.
-It was all straight up male chauvinism in the party. If there's a strong woman who is a member, she is forced out of the party, Puolakka says.
She thinks she was passed up as a parliamentary candidate due to mud-slinging and slander from the male members of the party. There were people listed as candidates instead of her, who were never voted on by the party members, she says.