The international media have for some time depicted Finland as the black sheep of the European Union because of her reluctance to pay for other member countries’ debt and thus help to save the eurozone from its present crisis. This impression was reinforced by recent statements made by senior government officials in Finland, including foreign minister Erkki Tuomioja and finance minister Jutta Urpilainen.
But neither of these two Finns was included in a list of Europe’s ten most dangerous politicians for the eurozone, compiled last August by the German news magazine Der Spiegel. Instead, that list included Timo Soini, a Finnish Catholic MP, chair of the parliament’s foreign-affairs commission, former presidential candidate, and leader of the Finns Party, which received record support in 2011’s parliamentary elections on a euro-critical platform, garnering almost one fifth of the vote..
In addition, on September 9, Italy’s largest daily, Corriere della Sera, included Timo Soini among the five most “populist” leaders in Europe. Soini, in particular, was cited by the paper as being “bastian contrario”—an habitual contrarian, a frequent opponent of accepted mainstream policies, opinions, or practices. This is evidenced, the paper contends, by the fact that he is a Catholic in a predominantly Lutheran country.