Some soap operas are so sweet and melodramatic that they form cavities in your brain. In the same way, the message of anti-immigration and xenophobic parties is so outrageous that they leave a whole in your head.
Timo Soini and the Perussuomalaiset (PS),* which became Finland’s third-largest parliamentary bloc in 2011, are appealing to voters on two crucial issues in next April’s elections: migration and development aid, which they claim are costing Finland 2.7 billion euros, according to the PS.
While it’s not surprising that a party that promotes xenophobia and has its roots in far-right ideology is targeting migrants and development aid, what is a continuing mystery is how they arrived at such calculations.
The figures were given at a press conference on Friday where PS’ chairman Soini, party secretary Riikka Slunga-Poutsalo and Matti Putkonen were present.
While there were other topics discussed at the press conference by the PS members, it is surprising that not one journalist asked how they arrived at such costs (1.5 billion euros for migration and 1.2 billion euros for development aid). The latter figures were given as a solution on how to cut Finland’s budget deficit and spur economic growth.
Read full story here. Eastern European migrants in Britain added 5 billion pounds to the economy, according to another BBC story.
With such figures and with such a xenophobic message, the PS is back to its favorite political fix: scapegoating.
What remains unclear is how attacking and scapegoating migrants is going to actually help Finland raise itself from its present economic slump. Some economist claim that it would do just the opposite: deepen our economic woes.
Certainly it’s difficult for a party that still believes in Social Darwinism to see migration and cultural diversity in a positive light. If i would have been present at the press conference, I would have asked Soini or Slunga-Poutsalo to name one country where migration has failed and been costly.
Just like adding 1 + 1 = 2, it’s clear that migration fuels growth as this BBC article shows. There was also a recent study by the OECD that revealed that migration had boosted growth in 2011 by 0.16% including pensions.
So why is the PS saying that migration is a burden for Finland? While in a different historical context, their aim is no different to what the Nazis did in the 1920s. They saw great potential in capitalizing on racial anti-Semitism as a mass political force.
When the PS scapegoats migrants, development aid, the public sector, the Greens and environmental policy, it not only shows its anti-Keynes side, but its similarity to parties like the ultra-conservative Tea Party as well as Thatcherism and Reaganomics.
John Maynard Keynes, who was one of the most influential economists in the past and even the present century, believed that during economic slumps it was the government that should step in and restore confidence in markets even if it meant increasing budget deficits. Austerity would only worsen matters.
It’s clear that the PS proposal to lower the cost of migration and development aid is meant for populist public consumption but also to help maintain a climate of suspicion and mistrust of migrants and minorities. Certainly sensible Finns, who are the majority in this country, don’t want to follow the PS’s xenophobic path.
Finns and especially migrants and minorities should not stand idle in the face of such xenophobic sound bytes by parties like the PS but openly challenge them.
Certainly if we want to go down a ruinous path that will cause extreme hardships on Finland, the PS may be the party you are seeking to vote for in the April 2015 elections.
* The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English names of the party adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We therefore prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings.