Which political party should I vote for in the upcoming municipal elections of October? If you are an immigrant or a naturalized Finn, probably one criterion is the party’s record on immigration and cultural diversity.
The first important decision you should make, however, is to vote on October 28.
Very few immigrants vote in municipal elections. In 2008, only 19.6% voted compared with 60% Finnish citizens.
Those eligible to vote are:
- Finnish citizens;
- Citizens of the European Union, Norway and Iceland;
- Other nationalities that have lived permanently in Finland at least two years.
While all political parties in Finland are officially against all forms of discrimination, it’s not clear what their real views are on the issue. How do they promote cultural diversity and how often do they speak out against racism?
The Christian Democrats are a case in point. They promote Christian values but there is not too much brotherly love shown by Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen when it comes to gays and refugee minors from Somalia who want to be reunited with their families.
The Center Party, Social Democrats and National Coalition Party (Kokoomus) suffer from the same type of split political personality as the Christian Democrats. You will find in all of these parties members who are for and against immigrants and immigration. No other party has, however, so many openly anti-immigration members as the Perussuomalaiset (PS).
The PS is the only party in Finland that has capitalized politically on anti-immigration and especially anti-Muslim sentiment as we saw in last year’s parliamentary elections.
The Greens and Swedish People’s Parties, and even the Left Wing Alliance with some reservations, appear to be the most open to immigration and cultural diversity, according to some polls.
This municipal election poll was published by Helsingin Sanomat.
One matter that concerns me the most about all of the parties I mentioned is that none of them speak specifically about the need in our ever-growing culturally diverse society for mutual acceptance, respect and equal opportunities.
What are some good questions you could ask a Finnish political party as the municipal elections near?
One question would be their big picture of Finnish society in this century. What is their stand on cultural diversity? How is our culturally diverse society supposed to function? Is it something that should be promoted or discouraged?
If they promote cultural diversity, the second question should be how. If they are against it, ask them what they plan to do with those people who live here and aren’t white Finns.
Remember to vote on October 28!