Immigration reveals what Finnish political parties are made of

by , under All categories, Enrique

The political field is pretty lopsided in this country these days: left-wing parties that were “progressive” in their approach to society have now become conservative and those that were on the “right” appear to be more open to the outside world.

If one looks at the recent statements on immigration by Social Democratic Party MP Eero Heinäluoma and  Kokoomus’ Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb one can conclude that the ideological tables have turned quite radically.

Even the Center Party, which has tradictionally been nationalistic and conservative in its view of the outside world, has under the leadership of Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi become a more middle-of-the-road party.

Even though the Social Democrats have open-minded people such as Liisa Jaakonsaari and Erkki Tuomioja, the anti-immigrant hardliners like MP Kari Rajamäki spoil the day. Rajamäki’s stance on immigrants and refugees is on the same wave length as the True Finns.

Certainly one cannot conclude that all of the members of Kokoomus want to make immigration work for Finland.  Wille Rydman and Kai Pönttinen are sore examples of how  some politicians want to use the immigration card for political gain.

  1. Jonas

    So many parties are pandering to the electoral threat of the Basic Finns (I think we should start using that translation in English, it’s far more descriptive of their attitudes 😉 ), it’s really quite hard to know where any party really stands – or what it would do if it had its way anymore. It’s highly disappointing that we have so many weak politicians who are unprepared to lead and argue for their own policies, but instead just cave in to populism. There really is so much populist nonsense about at the moment, it’s very disheartening. Look at the ludicrous populist nonsense coming from Kiviniemi and Pekkarinen around the Kokkola decision the other day. The whole political discourse in this country seems to be sinking to the lowest of levels.

    It’s not a happy time to have an election around the corner!

    • Enrique

      Hi Jonas, I am as disappointed as you about the situation. I never knew that some Finnish politicians could stoop so low. They not only show a lack of leadership but a serious character deficiency.

  2. Tony Garcia

    I’m sorry to disagree with both of you, but I’m an immigrant and I think now is the best time to live in Finland if you are a good immigrant.

    I think the election couldn’t be in a better time. This is just my honest opinion…

  3. Tony Garcia

    Once immigrants must have a voice, let me give an opinion about an interesting fact, and I’ll try not to talk to loudly this time…

    Lately one of the main news has been the “burn the Koran” day to celebrate 911. let me start by being fair, everyone knows that Muslims are not my best friends, but I must admit that this so called “pastor” is an idiot. His attempt if noting less than a ridiculous self-serving act of lunacy. I can go even further, if anyone is looking reasons for not be a Christian, just take a look a him and you will find plenty.

    That being said, another interesting fact has emerged from all of this. Everyone is scared because this will bring a waive of violence. Isn’t that interesting? How many times we had Christians holy symbols like the bible, the cross or the Virgin Mary being insulted? And what did happened? Beside Christians get offended, pretty much nothing. It was all about freedom of expression, and we, the Christians, must respect it. Fair enough… But now we are scared of the wave of violence… Interesting…
    Thousands are protesting in Kabul, and making two chants.

    “We are not terrorists.” and “Death to America.”

    It never stops amazing me how Muslims easily turn to terrorism every time they are offended for being called terrorists.

  4. Osmo

    That is because we Christians do not have any command to retaliate against those who would hurt us or make fun of us – the Muslims do. They make a point of it.

    My opinion is that anyone who has to protest or create turmoil/violence to protect what they believe is true, are on shaky ground. Those who know the Truth, do not have to retaliate in any way. (Christians) Could it be that Muslims deep down know their religion is violent and there is something wrong with it and that is why their people suffer from cruel dictatoriships that forces them to emigrate, like to Finland.

  5. xyz

    If you know that Muslims are sensitive regarding this issue what is the use of provoking them if you already know what the outcome is? Not very intelligent.

    • Enrique

      –If you know that Muslims are sensitive regarding this issue what is the use of provoking them if you already know what the outcome is? Not very intelligent.

      Good point, xyz. Why are we so into spreading hatred?

  6. xyz

    Concerning Islam, Finland is the country with the least amount of Moslems almost in the whole world 0.2%:
    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/rel_isl_per_mus-religion-islam-percentage-muslim

    Finland has about 10.000 Muslims. This whole discussion here is about Immigrants and not only about Muslims. Since there are about 140.000 immigrants in Finland I was wondering why you emphasize Islam all the time here Tony?

    Here is a German discussion Forum where you can read about the experience of some Germans in Finland:
    http://www.finnland-forum.de/viewtopic.php?f=101&t=1923#p44922

    This person says for example that she has lived 7 years in Finland and most of the foreigners she know were frustrated.

    The other thing I was wondering. If Finland is the best place to live, why does it have the lease amount of immigrants in whole Europe?

    http://yle.fi/uutiset/news/2010/09/finland_home_to_fewer_foreigners_than_other_eu_countries_1969070.html

  7. Klay_Immigrant

    -‘If you know that Muslims are sensitive regarding this issue what is the use of provoking them if you already know what the outcome is? Not very intelligent.’

    Let me reiterate what Tony said, that ‘Pastor’ is a complete imbecile but that doesn’t mean that everyone should never critize Islam and it’s practices purely based because of fear and the repercussions. Surely the truth is more important even if it’s not to everyone’s liking.

    -‘The other thing I was wondering. If Finland is the best place to live, why does it have the lease amount of immigrants in whole Europe?’

    1. Weather

    2. Language- Finnish is part of the Finno-Ugric language family along with Hungarian and Estonian. Apart from these main languages of Europe every other main language in Europe belongs to the Indo-European group making Finnish notoriously difficult to master compared to other languages in Europe for that reason.

    3. Location

    4. Politics- Officially claiming to be neutral during the cold war, Finland lay in the grey zone between the Western countries and the Soviet Union. This balancing act of Finlandization was humorously defined as “the art of bowing to the East without mooning the West”. This extended to immigration policies.

    5. Economy- Miscalculated macroeconomic decisions, a banking crisis, the collapse of its primary trading partner (the Soviet Union) and a global economic downturn caused a deep recession in Finland in the early 1990s resulting with GDP declining by 15% and unemployment increasing from a virtual full employment to one fifth of the workforce.

    6. Jobs- Highly skilled jobs retain lower salary levels that other European countries with the cost of living being roughly the same or slighly more depending on the country.

    7. Awareness- Compared to other countries in Europe Finland isn’t a well-known country. You’d be suprised how many people couldn’t tell you the capital or point to it on a map. Apart from Nokia, the odd rally/F1 driver, and ice hockey (not too popular compared to other sports worldwide), there’s not really any other reason to know about Finland for the uncultured mind.

    I don’t believe any other developed country in the EU has had so many barriers/deterrents to immigrants.

    • Enrique

      –Enrique, my friend, I bring here a case with both sides are wrong. You, once again, just have voice to criticize one side…

      Please refresh my memory. Sometimes issues are not only black and white.

  8. Tony Garcia

    Osmo and Klay,

    If you guys have 8 mins to spare listen to this interview. Greg Corombos interview Brigitte Grabriel a Lebanese who knows these people well. I have quoted her here before.

    She starts condemning the act as any reasonable people would do, than she goes on explaining what can happen, she gives a very good account on how crazy these people are. She finish explain why the violence, from where it comes from. Please pay particularly attention when she explain the Koran’s law of obligation, a little detail of that book that the left would die for you not to now about it…

    Thrust me, this interview is a must…

    http://media.blubrry.com/datelinewashington/www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/feeds.radioamerica.org/loudwater/wnd_news/000003760_000_000000013.mp3

  9. xyz

    I mean this Pastor is a good example that there are crazy people in every religion. Again, I know christians and muslims who are not violent at all. And since we are talking about Immigrants in Finland Muslims represent only a minority of all immigrants. So this whole discussion gets a bit one-sided. Tony, you can maybe write your own blog about religious stuff if you are so much into it.

  10. Tony Garcia

    Well the issue had two sides, an idiotic pastor deliberately offending Muslims, and Muslims reacting with violence to this offence.

    You criticized “us” (I take that this “us” is the pastor) for spreading hatred, fair enough, but said nothing about the violent reactions. I know you don’t support violence but, you always excuse what Muslims do, in one way or another, not matter what. You always find one way to portrait then as victims.

    Sorry but, to me, that is called double standards.

    • Enrique

      –Sorry but, to me, that is called double standards.

      When have I publicly condoned violence from any side? If you are a parent and your child hits you, what do you do? Hit back? No. There is a thing called restraint. It is not always and eye for an eye. That can get you into a huge fight. Our world is so messed up and full of “double standards” as you call them that some groups see violence as the only answer. This happened in Latin America in the 1970s. Our institutions were so weak and poor that some people saw armed struggle as the only answer. That is why strong instutions and democracy are paramount in maintaining the peace.

  11. xyz

    Tony: And what are you trying to achieve now? That we all agree that Muslims are the bad guys and Christians are the good guys? Would this give you the ultimate satisfaction? How about finding a way to live together without violence and just accept each other? Should be possible if we assume that not all of them are fanatics (on both sides)?

  12. Tony Garcia

    Sorry Enrique, you clearly didn’t read what I wrote, so I’ll write it again…

    “I know you don’t support violence…”

    Is that clear enough? But my point is simple, you have no problem criticizing us but prefer silence when it comes to what Muslims do. And you can’t deny that…

    • Enrique

      –But prefer silence when it comes to what Muslims do. And you can’t deny that…

      Here you go again, Tony. You think that an issue is in the extreme right or in the extreme wrong. Certainly in our societies violence has no place no matter who fuels it. However, your request is kind of strange. Let’s go the the nineteenth century Africa and take a look at how European colonialization destroyed Africa. I hope you don’t think that it meant “progress” to the continent. By criticizing the victim you are trying to lessen the perpetrators guilt.
      Do you really believe that the hatred that SOME Arabs have of the West comes from just one group and is a recent phenomenon? It has been festering for decades. The West thinks it can rule the world with military might and everyone bows to it. However, you need political solutions. What is the end-game: the West is going to arm itself to the teeth to feel secure and maybe go bankrupt in the process (Read Hemingway’s The moon is down). There are no military solutions. You need a political one. Bush and his neocons sought a military solution and look at the mess they got us in. Might is wrong. The same goes for al-Qaeda.

    • Enrique

      –“The opposition True Finns have campaigned in the past on an anti-immigration platform, but have done their best to distance themselves from the worst excesses of some of their supporters.”

      This sentence is a very neutral sentence. It just gives the facts about who the True Finns are. It would be more appropriate to use the term populist in an editorial or column. The newspaper and columnist has the right to be opinionated.

    • Enrique

      –So, don’t you see a change on the way the media is reporting the True Finns?

      I don’t read HS on a daily basis except for Sundays. Did they describe them before as populist? I don’t think so. Which media used the term populist constantly to describe the True Finns?

  13. Tony Garcia

    HS and Yle, both used to use fair-right and populist when talking about them, now both are using opposition. This week HS published an article claiming that True Finns can’t be called populist anymore.

    Other think on that phrase that called my attention is when they say…

    “… worst excesses of some of their supporters.”

    This is only my feeling but I’d say before they would have said members rather then supporters.

    Bear with me while I understand you opinion on that, from what you see the media hasn’t changed or you think it has, but it’s not really a big deal?

  14. Tony Garcia

    In my opinion, the media is only starting to recognize the inevitable. True Finns are a legitimate political party with political force and soon will have a democratic mandate. People just can’t call them racists and brush aside, it doesn’t work anymore. They must be talked to and listened.

    And it’s happening, just check how busy Thors has been lately. Reduction of asylum seekers allowance, age tests included in the law, more restrictions for family unification and right to work, are just some of the items in Thors agenda lately. Even the so “supported” mummu’s law apparently has lost momentum, particularly after Zyskowicz said they won’t vote for it.

    For me this all result of True Finns rising and becoming a political force, and depending on the next election result, we’ll see much more.

    I think the media is just realizing that the True Finns are no longer irrelevant, quite the opposite, they are becoming very relevant.

    • Enrique

      –For me this all result of True Finns rising and becoming a political force, and depending on the next election result, we’ll see much more.

      Do you know how Finnish politics works? If they get into government they will sell out and those who voted for them will feel as if they had been lied to. One of their most illustrious leaders, Urpo Leppänen, was married to a Cuban called Ana. After a while they will end up fighting and the party will split into pieces. The easiest thing is being in the opposition and making promises.

      How can other political parties sell out because a party wins a few percentage poinst in the polls? I think you are giving too much credit to the True Finns. Another matter that will happen is that there are a lof of months to go before the elections. A lot of things can happen, like an improvement in the economy. When the economy impvoes and that will be poison to the True Finns.

  15. xyz

    This is the wiki site of the True Finns:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/True_Finns

    Lets have a look at some of their policies there:

    “Criticizes the EU and sees it as a threat to the welfare state.”

    If Finland would not be in the EU, their products would be more expensive in other EU countries. Finland would sell less and they would have less tax income which Finland could use for their welfare state. I think this is a quite important factor especially if exports are so important for the Finnish economy.

    “Criticizes people who have called for tax cuts, because tax cuts are usually done to cut the rich people’s taxes, results in less money collected from the rich.”
    -Maybe they have never heared of a progressive tax system?

    Opposes cuts in public pensions.
    -Who is going to finance this if there are so many going to retire soon?

  16. Tony Garcia

    “If they get into government they will sell out and those who voted for them will fell as if they had been lied to.”

    Very possible, I don’t trust them more than i trust SDP or Greens. And both are very low in my chart.

    “I think you are giving too much credit to the True Finns”

    Sorry but I’m not given them any credit, I’m just, as you are, seeing that today most parties are going against mass immigration and asylum seekers. I never said this is result of their work, I think it’s result of their popularity.

    “…are a lof of months to go before the elections”

    Absolutely, and I never said this matter is already solved. We still have alot work to do to ensure they get enough votes to keep the main parties aware that we don’t want the doors openned any longer.

    “When the economy impvoes and thatwill be poison for the True Finns.”

    I agree with everithing you said but this part. Finns who doesn’t want mass immigrantion in general and asylum seekers in particulay won’t change their minds whatever the economic situation.

    • Enrique

      –most parties are going against mass immigration

      Where has “mass immigration” occurred in Europe? In Finland?! Please, Tony, now you are exaggerating. The adjective “mass” suggests a certain view of immigration.Other terms like “uncontrolled” is the favorite of those that think Europe is being “invaded” by immigration.

      If only you understood that immigration exists because there is a need for it. You are also an immigrant working in Ireland. Why? Because there is a need for your services. Immigration is an economic thing. Such people help a country to grow and prosper with their labor. There is so much demand for them that many are illegal aliens. I think I could not have said it any clearer and simpler to you.

  17. xyz

    Why you don’t make your own party if you don’t trust any of them? If you have good ideas you might get many followers. Then you would also be in the position to talk about what Finns want if you get enough votes.

  18. Tony Garcia

    Help me then, what is this article of yours all about? What are those politicians against then? They don’t want immigration at all?

    I said many times, I’m not against immigration, but harmful immigration. So I think I could not have said it any clearer and simpler to you.

    • Enrique

      –Help me then, what is this article of yours all about? What are those politicians against then? They don’t want immigration at all?

      You should ask the politicians what they mean. I have no idea. Even if you asked those that speak of “uncontrolled” immigration, they won’t give you any exact figures. What they are saying, in essence, is that they only want “white” or invisible immigrants. They problem is that there are not enough “white” immigrants to go around and that is why countries ask for visible immigrants to move and work in their countries. Don’t try to make any sense of what the politicians say because they don’t want you to. It is all a bunch of gobbledygook to start with.

  19. JusticeDemon

    Well that’s just great, Tony.

    You aren’t opposed to motor vehicles, but you go to the height of hyperbole blaming all road accidents on cyclists.

    Not that you personally happen to know any of these fictitious evil cyclists, even though you are a cyclist yourself.

    And what will you do when the hairless thugs come round and beat you up for looking like one of those evil cyclists? Will you hit back? Then you are only proving what an evil, violent cyclist you are. Community service for the thugs, more votes for the party that they “support” (the one with the secret membership list), and obviously deportation for you. Your children can choose whether they follow you or stay behind and pretend not to be cyclists.

  20. Jonas

    I really don’t see how the Basic True Finns could enter government for the reason that they are opposed to the European Union membership – this would be hard to reconcile with the views of any of three major parties with which they’d have to govern alongside.

    The danger is more that (as we already see happening), they influence the discourse and the attitudes of other parties as they pander to populism in attempt to prevent their voters switching to the True Finns. It’s politically like the situation in Denmark where the Danish People’s Party – who are highly critical of immigration (and frankly racist) – have managed to heavily influence Danish politics to the extent to which the notionally liberal parties have passed extremely tight legislation on immigration in the country. It’s now virtually impossible for a Danish person to bring back a non-European spouse to Denmark (with the circus-like result that many instead move to Malmö – and commute over Öresundsbron to Denmark for work – as Sweden will allow them to live there (and naturally the Dane can live in SE without any paperwork at all). Then after 5 or so years, the spouse can apply for Swedish citizenship and they can then move to Denmark (as naturally Swedish citizens don’t require any paperwork to live in Denmark).

    The one thing that should be in our favour, is that our politics is not as finely balanced in parliament. We have the internationally peculiar situation with 3 equally strong large parties with the consequence that normally 2 of them need to sit in government together. So, we lack the same risk that the True Finns could hold the parliamentary balance of power and extract even more influence from such a situation.

    I too have also noticed the media’s change in reporting of True Finns over the last few years. It is quite alarming. But the True Finns are a peculiar beast. They are not really comparable to Danish People’s Party or Sverigedemokraterna (both parties with very clear obvious racist streaks). True Finns are perhaps a little more clever and thus are harder to dismiss as right-wing extremists.

    Sorry this is a very rambling comment, but I am glad to see this blog is still provoking interesting debate.

    • Enrique

      Hi Jonas, it is always nice to write your insight on immigration issues in Finland. As you know, our country is at an important crossroads. Important decisions have to be taken in order to secure our future. How will we face matters such as our aging population, loss of economic output due to our declining workforce, bringing labor immigrants and how to pay for our comprehensive social welfare system. Is the answer populism, witch hunts making up scapegoats? I sure hope not. That is why the next elections and the one after that will be crucial.

  21. Klay_Immigrant

    The idea that immigration and immigration alone will solve Finland’s ageing population dilemma is pure fiction. It would help slighly yes, but mass immigration is not the solution and I will illustrate my point.

    The median age of Finland is 42.3 years. Germany’s is 44.3 years even with the 3rd largest immigrant population in the world (10.1 million) and Sweden’s is 41.7 years. Crucially Finland’s fertily rate (1.83 children) is quite high for a European Country, only Iceland (2.05), Ireland (1.96), France (1.89), and Norway (1.85) are higher. This problem is a phenomenon that affects all of the developed world not just Finland, but there are countries that are much worse off in that respect than Finland.

    Finland’s unemployment rate among the young (under 25 years) and foreigners are one of the highest in the EU so the notion to bring even more immigrants into the country to increase an already stiff competition for the few jobs that become vacant will be disastrous for Finland and it’s economy. Countries like Germany are in a position to absorb large numbers of immigrants into the workforce much easier than Finland.

    • Enrique

      –The idea that immigration and immigration alone will solve Finland’s ageing population dilemma is pure fiction.

      Immigration will not solve Finland’s aging population woes but will be a pratial solution. Nobody has said that immigration is a panacea for our demographic problems.

  22. Tiwaz

    -“Immigration will not solve Finland’s aging population woes but will be a pratial solution. Nobody has said that immigration is a panacea for our demographic problems.”

    But you refuse to acknowledge that for every problem immigration solves, it creates TWO.

    We do not need immigrants, we need jobs first and foremost.
    We do not need immigrants from Africa, we need SKILLED workers.
    And above all else, we do not need immigrants who insist on bringing their cultural baggage with them, because we need them to integrate to THIS society instead of demanding we alter it to theirs.

    Reality is that politicians are there to enforce will of the people. And people are sick and tired of the way immigration and immigrants have been handled.

    PS was first party to acknowledge that change has to take place, and they reap the benefits. Rest of parties had their heads so deep in their asses that it took this long for them to figure out that people are unhappy with all this “multiculturalism is a panacea” shit.

    Multiculturalism has never worked, never will. Thank god we had politicians who managed to figure that out before our society had embraced that failure more.

  23. Jonas

    Hi Tiwaz,
    Just interested why you specifically decided to mention Africa in your list of things we do not need above. Could you clarify why you felt it necessary to specifically mention Africa, as opposed to say Asia, South America or the rest of Europe?

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