This is Part 3 of an 8-part series of short articles by EWI's Head of Global Research, Murray Gunn. Murray is based in London, where he documents European hot-button issues in great detail. Murray also views the world and forms his conclusions from a social-mood perspective. It's an eye-witness series you don't want to miss.
by Murray Gunn
Updated: April 26, 2019
The "happiest nation on earth" is becoming rather tetchy.
Finland has ranked atop the list for two years running in the United Nation's World Happiness Report. According to the authors, the generosity of Finns in terms of donating and volunteering for charities makes a big impact (it looks like giving really does make us feel better about ourselves). Four of the top five countries in the Happiness league are Nordic. Contrast that, though, with the fact that those same four countries are in the top 30% of nations for suicide rates and we can see that the determination of social mood can be complicated. However, socionomics has discovered a simple barometer of mood -- the stock market.
Evidence emerged this month that, even if Finland is the happiest nation on the planet, it is still not immune to the growing far-right populist movement sweeping Europe. The nation's elections, held on 14 April, saw the far-right Finns Party make significant gains. Also known as the True Finns party, its stance is anti-immigration and also calls for limits on environmental policies. According to TRT World, the party's leader, Jussi Halla-aho, is thought to be inspired by Adolf Hitler's book Mein Kampf and thought to view a person's race as determining their intelligence. The Finns Party just missed out by a whisker on becoming the largest party in parliament.
The fact that a growing number of Finns are feeling angry enough to swing away from the center ground towards more nationalistic ideas is a reflection of the 19-year negative trend in social mood, as shown in the chart below of the OMX Helsinki All-Share index. This long-term negative trend in social mood is repeated in many European countries and is the main reason why populism has been galvanized across the continent. If our analysis is correct, the negative trend in European social mood is not over.
The rise of the Finns Party will bolster confidence in far-right, populist parties across Europe ahead of next month's European Parliament elections. The prospect of a strong nationalistic block in that Parliament, determined to, at the very least, re-route the European Union back towards more power for sovereign states, will have the powers-that-be in Brussels quaking in their boots.
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