In the face of the riots in Huusby, Sweden, which have now spread outside the northern Stockholm suburb, there’s one culprit we should pay close attention to especially here in Finland: The erosion of Sweden’s comprehensive welfare state system.
Faced with a seven-billion-euro budget deficit, it isn’t surprising that few if any politicians in this country want to dwell too much on the backlash the downsizing of our social welfare state could have on Finland. It’s not only easy but politically convenient to blame immigrants and their Swedish children, grandchildren and great grandchildren for the rioting.
National Coalition Party MP Arto Satonen is one Finnish politician that caught my attention concerning what he said about the riots in Sweden. The MP, who is chairman of National Coaliation Party’s parliamentary group, gave the following solutions:
- Keep the number of asylum seekers under control;
- Greater effort must be made to integrate immigrants;
- Ghettoization (he calls it segregation) must be avoided.
Why does Satonen talk about “keeping the number of asylum seekers under control?” Is he suggesting that asylum seekers are more prone to rioting and being marginalized than labor immigrants? Asylum seekers are the last group that would be rioting in Husby or in other parts of Stockholm and Sweden.
The same opinion was expressed by National Coalition Party Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen, who said that the number of asylum seekers must be kept in check, according to YLE. His comment was criticized by Left Alliance Minister of Culture Paavo Arhimäki.
I agree with Satonen’s second point but it’s unclear how we are going about this in Finland. High immigrant unemployment and youth marginalization, job discrimination, and the rise of a populist anti-immigration party that won 19.1% of the votes in 2011 make integration a greater challenge.
I am always a bit surprised when Finnish politicians speak of the danger of ghettoization. On the one hand, Finland officially praises multiculturalism but on the other hand dreads when too many visible immigrants live in the same neighborhood.
The same concern was expressed by teachers in a survey in 2011, which showed that 41% of teachers would like to place limits on third-culture children in the classroom. One third of those polled would not place any such limits.
Satonen said that football was a great integrator. Agreed. However, people can’t live off sports.
They need opportunities, jobs and Nordic social equality.