Immigration hardliner to head of populist Finns Party

AP News
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Posted: Jun 10, 2017 7:11 AM

TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — An immigration hardliner has been elected as leader of a euroskeptic group that sits in Finland's three-party center-right government.

The Finns Party elected Jussi Halla-aho on Saturday as its chairman to replace Foreign Minister Timo Soini, who stepped down after two 10-year terms as chairman.

A European Parliament member, the 46-year-old Halla-aho was convicted in 2012 for making racist statements.

His stance could mark a change for The Finns, which until now has distanced itself from far-right parties in Europe — something that enabled it to enter the government in 2015.

However, Halla-aho may toughen the party's nationalistic line, spelling trouble for Finland's governing coalition. The two other partners have said there will be no changes in the government program.