The Perussuomalaiset of Finland: Labeling and victimizing migrants for political profit

by , under Enrique Tessieri

The latest poll results, which showed support for the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* nosedive by a record 7 percentage points from April to 10.7%, not only means turbulent times for the government but especially for migrants and minorities in Finland.

It’s clear that for a party like the PS, which bases its political popularity on fear-mongering and xenophobia, won’t think twice about lashing out against migrants and minorities to regain the initiative after the shocking poll result.

One explanation for the PS’ good showing in the April parliamentary elections was its usual anti-immigration rhetoric but it also got a boost from the Charlie Hebdo attack in January and the Tapanila rape case in March, which permitted the populist party to see another day as one of Finland’s biggest parties.

Another matter that helped it was its inexistent track record. It’s been easy living in the opposition for four years whining. Breaking campaign promises like no more bailouts to Greece and tightening immigration policy, which is an euphemism for keeping Finland white, have angered their supporters.

The PS has kept some promises, however, like slashing development aid by 43% and continued to feed the polarization of our society.

The most incredible things are happening today in the PS. There are in-party fighting and intrigue political games with ever-clear signs that the party is close to imploding like the Rural Party did in the 1970s.

It’s clear that a party that has seen a massive drop in support like the PS also says incredible things.  On YLE’s A-studio we saw PS parliamentary group leader Sampo Terho argue with party vice president Sebastian Tynkkynen about whether the party should leave government and should Finland close the border with Sweden in a Viktor Orbán Hungarian-style  move.

The “debate” between Terho and Tynkkynen is enough to turn your stomach about how the PS scapegoats.

In the debate, Terho tried to calm Tynkkynen by assuring him that there is no need to close the border with Sweden because the government is “tightening immigration policy every day.” Terho said that in four months such changes in immigration policy would start to take effect.

Imagine, one party member telling another one whining about asylum seekers and cultural diversity that we’ll keep these people out of Finland because we don’t like them and because xenophobia is normal and acceptable.

And we got a  preview of that tightened immigration policy Friday, when PS Social and Health Minister Hanna Mäntylä announced that social aid to asylum seekers that get residence permits from March 1, 2016 will be slashed.

Some legal experts consider these measures unconstitutional. Section 6 of the constitution clearly states that everyone is equal before the law irrespective of his or her background.

 

Näyttökuva 2015-10-10 kello 9.08.06
See full television debate here.

What can you say about a party, and especially one that is in government, that preys on the most vulnerable and weakest groups of society like asylum seekers fleeing war, migrants and minorities?

There are two words for the PS in my vocabulary: Shameless opportunism and cowardice.

Migrant Tales has been critical of the PS for a long time and for the right reasons.

While it’s doubtful that the PS will ever recover from such a blow in support in the polls, the big question today is how to limit the damage the party has and will cause on Finland.

Sticking it out in government will slow their eventual demise from being one of Finland’s biggest parties, while leaving government will only precipitate it.

The Finnish name of the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English-language names adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We therefore prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings.

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