The Finns party : Changing mainstream parties?

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Title: The Finns party : Changing mainstream parties?
Author: Mårtenson, Daniela
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Valtiotieteellinen tiedekunta, Politiikan ja talouden tutkimuksen laitos
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Political and Economic Studies
Helsingfors universitet, Statsvetenskapliga fakulteten, Institutionen för politik och ekonomi
Publisher: Helsingfors universitet
Date: 2015
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Political Science, Politics
Yleinen valtio-oppi, politiikan tutkimus
Allmän statslära, politologi
Abstract: During the 21st century, there has been a rise of right wing populist parties throughout Europe. The Finns party in Finland has grown in popularity and become a governing party. There have been many extensive studies on why this rise has happened and how mainstream parties have contributed to it. This thesis looks at the subject from another angle. It studies if the change in the party arena, in this case the rise of the Finns party, has influenced the mainstream parties. The study tries to answer whether the mainstream parties have changed their stances in election programs and if these changes follow the stances of the Finns party. A special focus is put on stances about immigration. The theoretical framework is drawn from ideas of party alignment, party competition and how mainstream parties react to parties within the New Radical Right. Also, the thesis will look at theories about issue competition and especially issues raised by niche parties. The mainstream parties studied are the Social democratic party of Finland, the National Coalition party of Finland and the Centre party of Finland. The elections programs are from the European parliament elections in 2009 and 2014 and the national elections in 2011 and 2015. The method used is a mixed method, utilizing both a quantitative and a qualitative content analysis. The quantitative analysis focuses on five thematic fields: values, the EU, foreign policy, security and immigration. The qualitative analysis only focuses on the stances about immigration. The stances are compared between years and parties. The stances of the Finns party stand as a reference point and a special focus is put on whether there has been a change since the Finns party grew in popularity. The results of the quantitative analysis show the trends that happened between elections. This form of analysis does not show if or how stances changed, but rather whether or not the Finns party succeeded in raising questions that were important to them. The analysis shows that the Finns party failed to make the mainstream parties discuss such issues. It also shows that the Finns party themselves focused less on the themes in question. The qualitative analysis focused on immigration. The results indicate that there has been a change, especially in the election programs of the Social democratic party. Instead of following the stances of the Finns party, the Social democratic party has taken a stance against the Finns party and taken a more clear liberal stance on immigration. The changes in the National Coalition party and the Centre party are less visible.

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