Finland flirts with lost opportunities

by , under All categories, Enrique

By Enrique Tessieri

It is sad to think that a populist party like the True Finns may be set to win a lot of seats in the April 17 election. While everyone has a right to his opinion in Finland, pushing myths and flimsy arguments that incite nationalist sentiment at the cost of immigrants and minorities is simply unacceptable.

If the True Finns get under 20 seats in the next election it will be an upset for Timo Soini’s party. Anything above that could be seen as a victory.

It is unfortunate but Finland has been gripped by poll hysteria. Even before the first vote has been cast, some are already predicting a “huge” victory for the True Finns.

I personally believe that the True Finns are a bubble that will end up exploding after the anti-immigration wing led by Jussi Halla-aho and former SMP members like Soini clash.

Finland has not done well with far-right parties in the past. When we aligned ourselves as a co-belligerent (the official term) with Nazi Germany we ended up paying a huge price. Finland’s forte has been smart diplomacy and keeping a cool head in global and domestic affairs.

Ratcheting up the rhetoric of minorities and the outside world for short-term domestic consumption is a perilous mistake especially for a country like Finland to make.

One sign that the True Finns are not ready to lead this country is their manifest arrogance. Every time the polls have shown their popularity rise so has their contemptuousness. Some of them think they now have a carte blanche to push their views based on prejudice and ostracize those they consider different.

Some of the major parties like Kokoomus, Social Democrats and the Center Party have awoken to the True Finns menace. They are paying a big political price for not reacting earlier to this threat. But as the saying goes, better late than never.

The jury is still out on how the True Finns will do. A big election victory for the party would mean a big setback for Finland’s image abroad and to our values as a society. We will exchange our image of a country that has championed for social justice for one that has succumbed, like Denmark, to overt racism, far-right nationalism, populism and religious fundamentalism.

Jumping on the far-right bandwagon will only hurt Finland because that path will be lined with lost opportunities.

  1. Juan

    Give them the finance, employment, and foreign affairs portfolios. That should be enough rope for them.

    Then start brushing up on Swedish as we all will have to take the boat to Stockholm to look for work like in the ’70s.

  2. Jan

    If you know anything about True Finns and their goals, then you would know that they are not anti-immigrants or against minorities. Most of them support registration rights for gay couples, but just not for church marriage. They have nothing against foreigners who are coming Finland to work or study, but they are against these lowlifes who are coming here just to live on tax payers money, not willing to ingrate with Finnish culture and are breaking the laws. Nowadays it seems that all criticism against foreigners are looked as racism. Just look at Sweden… do you really want that happen to Finland as well?

    • Enrique

      Hi Jan, and welcome to Migrant Tales and sharing your views.

      –They have nothing against foreigners who are coming Finland to work or study, but they are against these lowlifes who are coming here just to live on tax payers money, not willing to ingrate with Finnish culture and are breaking the laws.

      I think I do not need to say anything more. You answered my question.

      Your view of “bad” and “good” people is a dangerous step on how to organize society.

      There is nothing wrong with debating an issue. Howver, if you want to exclude others by demonizing a group then that is wrong. You speak the way you do because you are not an immigrant. It would be like asking you about if you think women are oppressed and you are a man.

  3. Hannu

    Enrique Howver, if you want to exclude others by demonizing a group then that is wrong.

    Says Enrique “drunks are all bad and sick people, bald people are racists, everything i disapprove is racism, its ok to exclude racists and i define racism”

    • Enrique

      –Says Enrique “drunks are all bad and sick people, bald people are racists, everything i disapprove is racism, its ok to exclude racists and i define racism”

      Hannu, stop putting words in my mouth. You know well that this is ridiculous what you say.

      The fundemental problem, Hannu, with people like some True Finns and anti-immigration people is that they not only have problems with some immigrants but accepting other people in society. All this nonsense about other cultures peddled on sites like Hommaforum will lose ground as more Finns inform themselves. A researcher said that silence is what makes racism grow. Well, at least on this blog, we speak loud and clear about what kind of a social illness it is.

  4. Jan

    Thank you for your reply Enrique. You might not agree with my view, but it is always good to hear other opinions.

    Unfortunately we are not living in the world where all people are equal and everyone can’t be helped. It is a beautiful though, but not realistic. I actually have lived a few years abroad in different countries, so in a way, I have been an immigrant as well. However, I have always tried to blend in with the society (even I don’t agree with everything) and paid my taxes as they should.

    I actually do believe that Finland needs more foreigners, but it should be limited like True Finns say. We don’t need and Finland can’t afford having more foreigners who don’t have any education, can’t speak Finnish, Swedish or English and don’t have any possibility to have a job. Because of the current government, Finland also sends their families who are also uneducated and don’t have possibility to get a job. And yes, these people who I talk are usually from Somalia, Romania or refugees from other third world countries. Some of them actually need help, but some of them comes to here just to just tax payers money and have an easy life. Is this racism? Yes, maybe. Does it still make it false? Not necessary.

    Finland should focus on having educated and hard working people from different countries. I have never met any Chinese, Japanese, Indians or western European people who are coming here just to use our welfare system or demanding changed to Finnish culture (excluding drinking “culture”). I think there is something seriously wrong when some group of people get their own swimming turn because of their race or demand(!) having a teacher for their kids who is sharing the same religion with them. If that isn’t racism against Finns, I don’t know what is.

    This is not a hate speech toward you or other immigrants. But I do criticize current immigration system which let’s refugees have more rights that Finns and makes other foreigners look bad. And yes, some Finns also abuse the system, but hopefully there will be a change for this as well.

  5. Juan

    What is interesting to note is that in this atmosphere of increasing hostility towards migrants, there are other groups that are also in danger of marginalization or discrimination. The following is a link to the helsinki times website:

    http://www.helsinkitimes.fi/htimes/domestic-news/general/14782-archbishop-maekinen-wants-an-end-to-anti-gay-campaign-.html

    Who would think that in liberal scandinavia in the year 2011 such a campaign could be espoused, and not by a fringe organization but by the lutheran church? This is possible because discrimination is becoming acceptable. And once certain forms of discrimination become acceptable, all forms become probable. It is opening a virtual pandoras box.

    Which groups will be next?

    • Enrique

      Hi Juan, when I left the United States for Argentina and ended up living on a pretty permanent basis in Finland as a young man, there was one matter that that journey taught me: too much war, hatred and people pushing their views on how to live. If we have been able to build a society that is tolerant and respectful of other minorities and lifestyles, it is something we should defend tooth and nail. That is why the far-right in Europe is a menace to peace.

  6. JusticeDemon

    Juan

    You may be better informed on that story than I am, but my understanding is that the anti-gay campaign is indeed coming from a fringe organisation that is affiliated to the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Finland, and that the Archbishop who speaks on behalf of that Church has unequivocally condemned this campaign.

    Jan

    How many political parties in Finland are defined by their declared opposition to a population group?

    Which political parties in Finland have specifically promoted lowlifes who are coming here just to live on tax payers money, not willing to ingrate with Finnish culture and are breaking the laws. Please explain precisely how this promotion was achieved (e.g. what laws were changed).

    Can you name and shame even one such lowlife? In over two decades of direct experience working with immigrants I have only ever met one person who came anywhere near satisfying this description, and this was a young USAmerican man whose grandmother happened to be from Finland, and who evidently believed that this could be used as some kind of meal ticket. One way to stop cases of this kind would be to stop the returnee programme so that Finnish ancestry no longer confers immigration privileges. How do you feel about this?

    In how many cases have the benefits paid to an immigrant been reduced due to refusal of work or training? I am unaware of a single case of this kind, even though I am one of the first people that tend to hear about such decisions. If the phenomenon that you describe is so common, then we must have a lot of Finnish government officials who are routinely breaking the law in such cases.

    What specific proposals have PS made to change the Aliens Act? None that I am aware of. Instead, they claim that the Act has not been enforced, but this again means that we have a lot of lawbreaking officials. Why don’t you name and shame even one Finnish official who has broken the law in this way? I can think of a few cases in which officials have been reprimanded for applying unlawful legal sanctions against immigrants, and of course the administrative courts sometimes quash unlawful expulsions and refusals of residence permits and citizenship, but you are alleging an equally unlawful active favouritism. Show us ONE case of this kind and we shall invite the official concerned to respond on this blog.

    One last point: why would a party that bends over backwards to argue that it is not racist be so keen to repeal the Equality Act and introduce discriminatory social security legislation?

  7. JusticeDemon

    I understand that Marja-Leena Leppänen, the PS candidate in Lappeenranta, is Timo Soini’s mother-in-law. She has been a local councillor for some years but has never, ever spoken in the council chamber.

    • Enrique

      JusticeDemon, in the column that was published by Ydin-lehti, a True Finn asked me how many True Finns I would want to kill? These types of comments worry me because it shows that some Finns are in need of an integration course on Finnish society. The first lesson should be to show them that nineteenth century thought on cultures (Levy Bruhl et al) is not applicable in the 21st century. The True Finns are already feeling the heat. They are a bubble ready to burst. Why? Because the pin that burst the bubble is their own hatred and chronic desire to get back at their imagined enemies.

  8. StiflersDad

    “I understand that Marja-Leena Leppänen, the PS candidate in Lappeenranta, is Timo Soini’s mother-in-law. She has been a local councillor for some years but has never, ever spoken in the council chamber.”

    I live in Lappeenranta and follow local politics (or more accurately, local planning) very closely due to owning a fast growing business in the city. Marja-Leena is a very active member of the local council, and your source is obviously mere hearsay.

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