Finland is presently in the midst of one of its biggest demographic changes in its history due to the rapid growth of its immigrant community. Our ever-growing cultural diversity as a nation has brought out the best in many of us but has encouraged some of us to throw in the towel on sanity.
Is Finland in danger of becoming a Hungary or Greece?
Those promoting Hungary’s far-right Jobbik or Greece’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party model on immigration and cultural diversity are none other than the usual band of extremists of parties like the Perussuomalaiset (PS), who see nothing wrong with these xenophobic and anti-Semitic groups.
They don’t see these parties as a danger because Jobbik and Golden Dawn promote the same matter as the PS: ethnic purity at any cost, even losing our Nordic liberal democracy to far-right extremism.
Migrant Tales wrote in a recent blog entry: “In many respects it [open discrimination of immigrants and visible minorities] will look like Russification all over again in the 2010s but with different players – the PS are the Russians and immigrants/visible minorities are personified through Eugen Schauman.”
When I moved to Finland a second time in the late-1970s, our foreign population totalled about 10,000 people, or around 0.2% of the population. Most of these so-called “foreigners” were Finnish expats who had moved back to the country.
The biggest national group living in Finland at the time were Finns who were naturalized Swedes.
Back then, Finland was in its own league when it came to cultural diversity. Albania was the other European country that resembled Finland. People joked back then that our country was the Albania of Europe since it had so few immigrants.
Our foreign population started to grow rapidly and steadily after it hit rock bottom in the 1970s, when it totaled about 7,000 souls. By 2002-03, Finland’s immigrant population passed the 100,000 barrier for the first time, reaching 103,687, or 2% of the population.
Our immigrant population totals today 183,133 (3.4%).
With the rise of far-right, populist and anti-immigration parties growing throughout Europe, we in Finland should be especially concerned about how such a trend could impact our country socially, politically and above all economically.
Finland needs right-wing populist and anti-immigration parties like a hole in the head.
We need more than ever today leadership and proactive solutions to make cultural diversity work.