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Finnish Election: Murderers, Criminals and 'Black Hitler'

© Photo : PixabayHelsinki
Helsinki - Sputnik International
The forthcoming municipal ballot in Finland has seen a plethora of unconventional and downright eccentric candidates running for election. The right-wing populist Finns Party has caught criticism for sporting a dangerous criminal, previously sentenced to life in prison.

Katariina Räikkönen - Sputnik International
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A former criminal sentenced to life imprisonment was found to be running for election in eastern Finland, the Finnish newspaper Iltalehti reported. In the 1980s, he was sentenced for brutal murder and attempts to take more lives, only to be personally pardoned by then-Finnish President Mauno Koivisto in the 1990s.

According to the candidate himself, whose name was undisclosed for reasons of privacy, he had never tried to conceal his past. Moreover, he informed the head of the local election commission beforehand and was met with no resistance. After the aspiring politician decided to run for the Finns Party, he was invited to the central office to discuss the upcoming election campaign and his ambiguous past.

Incidentally, he is not the only candidate with a criminal past. The same Finns Party also landed in hot water for notoriously including in its electoral roll Pori native Reijo Toiviainen with a colorful criminal record, including numerous arrests, violent opposition and restraining orders. Yet another electoral faux pas from the Finns Party includes a middle-aged man who was handed a five-month prison sentence last year for child sexual abuse, Iltalehti reported.

The freshest disclosure from the Finns Party features a certain Tommi Johansson, who amassed no fewer than 34 convictions of which 25 for assault and battery. The latest conviction was in 2016, Iltalehti reported.

July 1, 2016. President Vladimir Putin (right) and President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinisto before a joint news conference following their meeting in Naantali. - Sputnik International
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The Finns Party is a populist and nationalist-oriented Finnish party founded in 1995. In 2015, it became Finland's second-largest party, entering the government for the first time. Over the past decades, however, the Finns Party has been struggling to eschew its public image as borderline Nazis, which was reinstated by numerous Finns MPs and party leaders making public statements interpreted as racist and inflammatory. The party also changed its name from the initial True Finns (by which it is still known in both Finnish and Swedish) to shed unnecessary connotations and moderate its uncompromising Finland-for-Finns, Eurosceptic and homophobic stance.

In a PR-stunt to whitewash its image, the Finns Party included several black candidates to its election roll. Of them, Angolan-born Finnish pastor Joao Bruno Putulukeso gained particular attention among Finnish web users. Combined with racist rants by Finns Party members, Putulukeso's mustache gave rise to the meme 'Black Hitler' on the social media. Putulukeso, a proud father of four, is running under the motto "Love is the weapon of victory" in an attempt to prove that the Finns Party is not the enemy of immigrants.

​In recent months, however, the Finns' popularity plummeted to about nine percent, which is half of the 18 percent gained in the previous election. The dismal support figures prompted Timo Soini, incumbent Foreign Minister and unchallenged party leader, to announce his resignation after two 10-year-terms as Finns chairman. However, Soini would like to keep his post as Foreign Minister until the current coalition's term is over in 2019.

Finland's 2017 municipal elections are slated on April 9. In total, about 10,000 will be elected in 297 municipal councils.

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