The PS of Finland: Can you teach a bigot new tricks?

by , under Enrique Tessieri

When the national media gave the racist narrative of the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* the benefit of the doubt, Migrant Tales never did and never will. Can you teach an old dog new tricks? If you are naive you probably think you can. 

Time magazine quoted Migrant Tales a day after at the 2011 parliamentary elections because we were one of the few who wrote critically about the PS. Time writes in its global briefing page for April 18, 2011:

“We are not extremists so you can sleep safely,” says the head the country’s ascendant ‘True Finns’ party (yes, that’s their real name). Of course, not everybody agrees: Far-right populism is an illness inflicting Europe at present and it now has a beachhead in Finland, writes Enrique Tessieri.”

Nothing has changed since April 17, 2011 except that the PS has today more power than ever before since it forms part of the government with the Center Party and National Coalition Party.

I stand firmly by what I wrote in 2011: The PS is and will continue to be an illness inflicting Finland that has already impoverished the country economically, socially and politically.

Some naively believe that the PS can be transformed into a “normal” party by getting rid of its worst racists like PS MP Olli Immonen, MEP Jussi Halla-aho and many others.

Not a chance. The PS grew from near-obscurity to become the second-biggest party in parliament thanks to its xenophobic rhetoric and promises.

Becoming a “normal” party would be synonymous to committing political hara-kiri for the PS.

Näyttökuva 2015-9-11 kello 7.39.50

 

Read quotes of the day here.

Sakari Timonen is one of Finland’s best anti-racism bloggers. In his latest blog entry he sheds light on why the PS constantly brings up its pet topic: immigration. I agree wholeheartedly with Tiimonen’s analysis: Since the PS is in government it has had to make some turncoat decisions like slash social welfare that hit the most vulnerable sectors of society as well as vote in favor of the bailouts for Greece.

Since most of the promises that it made to voters before the elections have been broken, attacking refugees and migrants is the way that the PS can save face.

What can you say about a populist party that bases its growth on promising voters that it will take care and rid Finland of Somalis, Muslims and all those who put in jeopardy their white Finland?

Xenophobic? Islamophobic? Racist? Far right? Fascist? Neo-Nazi? Ultranationalistic? Neoliberal?Undemocratic?

All of the above, like a mosaic, define what the PS is today.

In my book bullying, spreading racism and lies to victimize others in society because it suits your bigotry and power-hungry goals are the worst kind of cowardice that exists in this country today. Mark my words. These politicians, who inflate themselves with bravado and rattle their xenophobic sabers for the media and social media, are the first that will flee these country if we are attacked by a foreign power.

Another important point to remember is that the PS is copying the Islamophobic rhetoric of the Danish People’s Party as a strategy to maintain their popularity. This is a mistake because Finland is not a Denmark. Finland is Finland.

Finland will get a record number of refugees this year and the next. Some estimates put asylum seekers at 30,000 this year with the figure rising in 2016 to possibly 50,000.

Are these “huge” numbers? Why not see them as an opportunity like Germany?

We should.

The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English names of the party 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.

  1. PS voter

    50000 persons during 2016 is already out of date information. At current level, from Tornio alone, comes about 300 refugee seekers a day. That makes about 110 000 persons a year and refugee seekers come from other routes as well and on top of that there is EU burden sharing of 2400+800 persons (and these figures will probably dramatically increase in near future). You can compare it to the number of children born each year in Finland which is less than 60000.

    With the current speed, even if these refugee seekers made no babies in Finland, Finns would become a minority within our own country within few decades. And of course they too will make babies and typically at least somewhat higher numbers than Finns, which would make Finns minority in Finland even faster.

    Even if take into account that not all refugee seekers are accepted and Finland is able to deport some of the unaccepted refugee seekers, you should remember that refugee family reunion mechanism brings many times more people to this country than we are able to deport.

    This is simply unsustainable with the current social security system (which is a main factor that brings these persons to Finland, which is quite distant country, instead of some closer country). Either we one way or another, dramatically reduce the number of refugee seekers coming here (or at least who are accepted) or at least the social security system collapses, which will probably dramatically reduce the number of refugee seekers who come here. If we let the social security system collapse, it would dramatically change Finnish society and most likely, with the collapse we would have enormously high government debt to pay of with taxes during following decades.

  2. PS voter

    I would like to add some other facts. Like the fact that at least previously, the employment (not unemployment!) rates of Iraqis and Somalis in Finland has been under 20 percent even during good economic times. And now we are in deep economic troubles already, unemployment rates are already high and will probably soon skyrocket with the new austerity measures. That makes the wishful thinking that the mass immigration of refugee seekers would somehow provide economical benefit, extremely unlikely.

    The population size of Germany is about 15 times the population size of Finland and Germany has much stronger economy than Finland. Germany has said that it would be able to take about 500 000 persons a year for some years, but unlimited numbers. Even if we compare the size of population of Germany and Finland and ignore the economical differences, that amount of persons would mean about 33000 persons, which is much less than the projected numbers coming to Finland during following year. And Germany naively opened their borders and the size of the mass movement surprised them and now they are demanding that other countries should take part in the foolish decision that is already drowning them. More or less the same applies to Sweden as well.

    And we see no end in sight for the persons coming as refugee seekers. The irresponsibly high birthrates in developing countries are simply unsustainable. We cannot simply work as some kind of endless relief valve to these countries. That wouldn’t provide much help to these countries, but in the process western countries would be ruined as well. The fact remains that these countries have to start act in more responsible manner, one way or other and we should contain their problems within these countries.

    I feel that the current EU leaders either lack the understanding of these simple facts or that they are unable to act accordingly them. This current mass migration of people from developing countries is may very well lead not only to the collapse of EU but European countries/societies as well. And am afraid that this uncontrolled process will lead to tears if we don’t quite soon take decisive actions to dramatically reduce the size of this mass movement.

    And all idealism of making this mass movement easier, should be immediately scrapped, as they will just make this whole process worse. I have some ideas and I hope that at least some of them will be implemented before the situation is totally out of control:

    1. Starting to use the Australian model and not accepting any persons who come to the EU area without permission. If the persons claim to be refugee seekers, send them to refugee camps in developing countries, which provide safety, but aren’t attractive to welfare refugees. This is also something that Paul Collier, Oxford professor who is a specialist in the political, economic and developmental predicaments of poor countries, says we should do.

    2. Stop giving permanent residency or citizenship to persons who aren’t able to survive in our country without social security payments. Then we could deport persons whose home countries have become safe, unless they have shown the motivation and capability of integrating to this country.

    3. We should start to use mainly tent camps instead of more comfortable living standards, in order to discourage welfare refugees. And stop giving any money at least during the time of of processing their application and just provide food, clothes etc. At the moment large percentage of refugee seekers are from Albania, although the acceptance rate of their applications is about 0 percent. Apparently, their wages/social security in Albania is so poor that even the social security during the processing time of their applications, makes it profitable to come here to as refugee seeker.

    4. Put border control in order to prove from which safe EU country the refugee seeker came from and then use the Dublin process to return them back. Without border control it is more or less impossible to prove from which country they came from and then return them back.

    5. We should start accepting fever application. For some reason Finland approves far more applications of Iraqis and Somalians than for example Sweden and Denmark. Apparently Finnish officials have been too naive to believe all sob stories.

    6. We should change the treaties and at least make getting subsidiary protection less of right and more of exception (it is worth to remember that war in itself is not a grounds for getting refugee status according to the 1951 Refugee Convention). That would also make the persons who are accepted, more grateful and less demanding as they are at the moment, when they don’t have to care about the heavy costs and the sacrifices we have had to make for them.

    • Migrant Tales

      Hi PS voter. 1. The Australian model is a sham. Here’s an article by the Washington Post that highlights the “brutal treatment” that refugees suffer http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/03/opinion/australias-brutal-treatment-of-migrants.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share&_r=1
      2. Citizenship must be done faster and the state must take a more proactive role to deal with migrant unemployment.
      3. Would you like to live in a tent camp?
      4. We should find legal ways that refugees can seek asylum in the EU. Not close the borders and force them to take life-threatening journeys.
      5. If you look at the Middle East I’d say the situation is pretty horrible. I would leave if I could. Is it a “sob” story? I doubt it.
      6. You cannot stop people from fleeing a war zone. Closing the border is not a solution.

  3. PS voter

    1. Australian model is not a sham. The way Australia has implemented it, may have some minor details in need of fixing, like keeping better order on the refugee camps. I would like to remind that it is more or less the same what Paul Collier, Oxford professor who is a specialist in the political, economic and developmental predicaments of poor countries, says we should do instead of what EU is doing, which is in reality immoral.

    Oxfordin yliopiston professori palauttaisi pakolaisia leireihin
    Kehityspolitiikan asiantuntija Paul Collier pitää EU:n toimintaa moraalittomana
    http://www.hs.fi/ulkomaat/a1433480590053

    It is the only model that really works. All other models seem to be just wishful thinking that create uncontrollable and unsustainable mass movements and tragedies.

    I would also like to remind what Andreas Kamm, the head of Danish Refugee Help, has warned. He says that this mass movement is permant and will lead to a collapse and that we can’t be required to destroy our own societies in the name of helping refugees:

    Sammenbrud truer flygtningesystem – Europa – International
    http://jyllands-posten.dk/international/europa/ECE7963933/Sammenbrud-truer-flygtningesystem/

    “”We run the risk that conflicts between refugees and migrants on the one hand and local populations on the other goes awry and escalating, and in my eyes, we face a decidedly Armageddon scenario.”

    He estimates that the current pressure of refugees constitutes a ‘permanent’ challenge that does not go away, and recommends the development of new tools that can address and solve the problems.

    But the answer is not that “Europe imports surplus populations,” it said.

    “We can not be required to destroy our own society. We must stop before it if we possibly can, “he says.”

    2. Why on earth should we give citizenship to persons who aren’t able or willing to support themselves by working? The more we let persons like these to remain in our country even they don’t have any grounds for getting refugee status or even subsidiary protection, the more expensive it comes and the sooner the economy collapses. And when the collapse happens, we cannot help ourselves and not even persons who would have genuine need for refugee status. And giving the citizenship too easily, removes any motivations for persons to improve themselves, if they get the citizenship as a free lunch.

    Talking about more proactive role to deal with migrant unemployment is mostly just wishful thinking. We can endlessly blame ourselves about it, but economic situation is what it is and most of the blame for lower employment rates lies with the migrants themselves. Giving citizenship or right for permanent residency, would be one of the few ways to motivate these people to take more active role in getting employed and now you don’t support even that. The answer to migrant unemployment cannot be anymore even more unneeded jobs on public sector with “positive” discrimination, like it has been to some extend during last few years, until the economy really started to collapse.

    3. I have lived in a tent during military service and it was far more unpleasant tent (it wasn’t tall like their tents, it didn’t have bed, it didn’t have electrically heated warm air blown to warm the tent etc) than the ones that are provided for refugees. In certain situations I could live in a tent, but if the cost for me is the same, I prefer living in ordinary building. But the point isn’t that would I prefer living in a tent, but with tent camps we take away the carrot of leaving the refugee camps in developing countries by using illegal and dangerous human smugglers and creating unsustainably expensive mass movement.

    And if those people are able to afford to pay rent for ordinary building with their work or saving, I am willing to allow it. But it would be foolish to provide luxuries with very limited taxpayers money.

    4. Why should we make it even easier to come here, as it would mean even bigger mass movement than the current one, which is unsustainably big? And if we don’t let in almost everybody who would like to come, there would be still be huge number of people coming with the human smugglers. Only by using Australian model, would stop those life-threatening journeys with human smugglers.

    5. There are a lot of safe countries between those countries and Finland. They should stop there instead of coming here. And for example, in Iraq and Somalia, there are large areas that are relatively safe for local persons and people who are originally from there, do constantly holiday trips there and even I have bough often airline tickets there for some other persons and each time I buy tickets, I check the current situation. If they live in more dangerous area, they should just locate more safer area.

    And I do think that instead of escaping, most of them should join army and stop the ISIS. After all, at some point, somebody has to fight against ISIS, unless we want it to slowly expand to the rest of the world. And the bigger we let it to get, the worse the ISIS problem comes.

    And many of the sob stories are invented and extremely similar to each other, for example, see this:

    http://ilmari.puheenvuoro.uusisuomi.fi/202126-pakolaisaallon-liftarit

    And often the refugee seekers lie even from what country they are from. This is acknowledged both by authorities and persons from these countries. And it is not the only thing that is commonly lied about.

    6. Sure you can and we can and we must make coming over border less attractive option.

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