Taking into account all the debate and pouring of outrage, some fake, some honest, at what happened last week, when a Neo-Nazi Kansallinen Vastarinta (SVL) member provoked the death of Jimi Joonas Karttunen, I am a bit worried about how we are taking our eye off the ball.
Is racism and bigotry in Finland only a Neo-Nazi thing?
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Take a look at the government of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä and connect the dots between the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* party and far-right extremist groups like the SVL, Suomen Sisu, Soldiers of Odin, Rajat kiini! and Suomi ensin.
With members of the PS having direct links with Neo-Nazi organizations and extremist anti-immigration group, it is totally ingenious for Sipilä to tell us that he’s against racism.
All of what we are seeing in Finnish society today is an example of how we are backtracking from those exemplary laws we passed in the 1990s like the new Constitution, dual citizenship rights, Non-Discrimination Act, Integration Act, among others.
Blaming only Neo-Nazis and the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* for Finland’s ever-worsening anti-immigration atmosphere is only focusing on part of the problem. True, the PS is a populist party that has made its mark in Finnish politics thanks to their anti-immigration and especially anti-Islam message.
Spreading hatred and polarizing society by scapegoating migrants and minorities has worked wonders for the PS. In the 2007 parliamentary elections the populist party only won 5 seats but four years later, in 2011, they won 39 seats. Today, after coming second in the 2015 parliamentary elections, they are in government with the Center Party and National Coalition Party.
Perussuomalaiset chairman and foreign minister Timo Soini, Center Party Prime Minister Juha Sipilä, and National Coalition Party Minister of Finance Petteri Orpo looking the other way as Neo-Nazis beat a man next door to the Helsinki Railway Station. Source: Facebook.
This picture was taken last year at Eugen Schauman’s grave with a group of SVL members. Jesse Torniainen, standing close to Olli Immonen is the SVL member who killed Jimi Joonas Karttunen. Immonen claims that the Neo-Nazis in the photo appeared by accident.
But here’s an important question that needs some answering: How did the PS become one of the largest parties in Finland from 2011?
Even if the economic recession must play a role, it the deeply-entrenched racism and bigotry of the party what captured close o a half-a-million Finns’ votes.
The impact of our suspicion of the outside world and flirting with Tea Party populism, can be seen in net-migration flows below.
The net inflow of people to Finland has fallen sharply from about 14,000 to an estimated 12,000 this year. Fewer foreigners are moving to Finland (blue line) while more people are emigrating (red line). Source: Statistics Finland.
Why are fewer foreigners moving to Finland?
Is it because the government has done everything in its power to make Finland an unattractive for those that want to come here?
Why would I want to move to Finland with my family if the government has such a hostile attitude towards asylum seekers?
* 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. The direct translation of “Perussuomalaiset” is “basic” or “fundamental Finn.”