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Pennanen, Erkki

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Helsingin Sanomat - Finland | 09/10/2008

Erkki Pennanen on populism

Erkki Pennanen discusses the role played by populism in politics. "Populism and populist parties can play an important role in politics. ... So it is not a good idea to try to exclude them from government at all costs. Populism is marked by people's quest to understand politics in a simplified, pointed and in the worst case distorted way. Many Western European countries have strong populist parties. In most cases these are either right-wing populist or ... extremist parties. ... The master of Finnish populism was Veikko Vennamo in the 1960s and early 70s. His slogan 'Yes, the people know it', has now been taken up by Timo Soini, the chairman of the True Finns. ... Populism's attraction lies above all in its language, which is plain and close to the people. ... We don't consider Soini's party to be entirely on the extreme right. ... And now even the traditional parties, short of money, are displaying many populist traits. The value of populism in democracy is that it creates a stimulus for political discussion and is able to reach voters that would otherwise not be interested in politics. ... It is unwise to forget that as soon as elections are over."

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