A poll commissioned by Helsingin Sanomat, Finland’s largest-circulation daily, and conducted by Suomen Gallup showed that close to 60% of Finns now feel that the country should not increase the number of immigrants. The corresponding percentage three years ago was 36%.
These types of polls, in my opinion,are very one-sided and help keep alive negative attitudes and scapegoats to blame the recession. They are also carte blanches to insult more vociferously other groups since “it is ok to be racist during a recession” rather than in an economic boom cycle.
Heikki Evarsti, a social policy professor at the University of Turku, believes: “As immigration is not yet any major phenomenon in Finland, relatively few Finns have personal contacts with immigrants, which is why individual citizens’ views have hardly had any significant impact on the public opinion.”
Certainly these types of surveys are welcomed by anti-immigration groups such as the True Finns and serve as a warning for other parties. The Helsingin Sanomat article says that other political parties are finding it highly tempting to follow the True Finns’ anti-immigration charge for fear of losing votes as parliamentary elections near.
I personally believe that in this decade as more immigrants come to the country and show with their work and determination their importance to Finland, attitudes will change very rapidly.
Those that jump on the populist anti-immigration bandwagon today are the ones that will, at the end of the day, lose the most. Keep a close watch on the parties and the politicians who vacillate opportunistically from one side of the fence to the other.
Finns are an intelligent lot. The last thing they will do is be spoon fed hatred and incomprehension by anti-immigrant groups and figures on personal messianic power-ego trips.