EAGLE St.- to Index

Risto Alapuro:

FINNS EMPHASISE THEIR WESTERN CONNECTION

Finland provides a good example of the elusive character of sovereignty. As a small member of the European state system, it is exceptionally sensitive, according to Professor Risto Alapuro, to changes in the system.

"The EU membership referendum highlighted the two national(ist) fears that until now have been closely intertwined: fear of losing Finland’s precious independence, as defined both politically and institutionally, and fear of Russia. But unlike earlier, the two fears worked in opposite directions: the defence of independence through staying out of the EU versus the defence of independence (from Russia) through joining the EU.

"Alongside potential economic losses, the question of independence apparently contributed to the most distinctive feature of the vote, the farmers' clear-cut "No" to the EU. On the other hand, an echo of the fear of Russia was discernible in the middle-class "Yes" for Europe, even if Russia was not expressly mentioned. The pro-EU campaign evoked the threat that in staying outside, Finland would be excluded from the Western community, i.e., from the Finns' "natural reference group", and left alone. Significantly, Finland's belonging to Western Europe required a special emphasis."

Risto Alapuro is Professor of Sociology at the University of Helsinki. He is the author of "Suomen synty paikallisena ilmiönä 1890-1933" (The Birth of Finland as a local phenomenon 1890-1933), publ. Hanki ja jää, 1994; "State and Revolution in Finland", Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.

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