Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Between Horizontality and Centralisation: Organisational Form and Practice in the Finns Party

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Abstract:  This article provides the first comprehensive analysis of the Finns Party’s (Perussuomalaiset [PS]) formal organisation and how it operates in practice. Following the framework of this thematic issue, to what extent does the PS’s organisation follow the mass-party model and how centralised is the party in its internal decision-making? Analysis of party documents, association registries, and in-depth interviews with 24 party elite representatives reveal that the PS has developed a complex organisational structure and internal democracy since 2008. However, the power of members in regard to the party’s internal decision-making remains limited, despite the party’s leadership having facilitated a more horizontal and inclusionary organisational culture after 2017. The study reveals how the party combines radically democratic elements of its leadership selection and programme development with a very high level of centralisation of formal power in the party executive, and how the party organisationally relies on a vast and autonomous but heterogeneous network of municipal associations. The article also discusses how PS elites perceive the advantages of having a wide and active organisation characterised by low entry and participation requirements, and how party-adjacent online activism both complements and complicates the functioning of the formal party organisation.

Keywords:  activism; Finns Party; party democracy; party organisation; populist radical right; social media


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© Niko Hatakka. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.