A Finnish government that bolsters anti-immigration populism and nationalism

by , under Enrique Tessieri

It’s sad to watch how the present government of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä is not only destroying our welfare state but bringing out the worst form of anti-immigration fear and political cowardice. When asked on YLE’s Ykkösaamu talk show about the attacks against asylum reception centers, the only thing Interior Minister Petteri Orpo had to say was that he was “saddened” by such “illegal” attacks and that the 80-point plan to tighten immigration policy would help calm matters down.

Thank you very much Minister Orpo but being “saddened” by what is happening is “sadly” not enough. What you are doing, as Helsinki city councilwoman Veronika Honkasalo correctly stated in a Facebook post, is blaming the victims, the asylum seekers, for the attacks and hostility against them.

The xenophobia against asylum seekers is a cancer that spreads rapidly in our society and impacts the whole migrant and minority community of Finland.

What’s going on?

Orpo, who is a member of the National Coalition Party, is worried together with the Center Party about the nosedive in support in the polls of their third partner, the Perussuomalaiset (PS).* By getting tough on immigration policy and turning a semi-blind eye on the security situation of asylum seekers and that of all migrants living in Finland, the government hopes to bolster the PS in the polls.

If the PS left government it would most likely mean new elections. Would the next prime minister of Finland by from the Center Party or a Social Democrat?

In a letter to the editor of Helsingin Sanomat, Finland’s largest daily, Professor Martti Koskenniemi wrote that the government “has bowed” to social media pressure:

The government has drafted a straightforward policy [80-point immigration tightening program] to bolster support of the Perussuomalaiset [in the polls].

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Considering the overdose of bigotry we’ve seen in recent years in Finland, and which people like Orpo have not had a taste of because he’s not a migrant or asylum seeker, it’s clear that not too many Finnish politicians are worried about the hostile atmosphere against migrants and ever-rising tide of racism.

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See full interview here.

The YLE interview is a sad example as well of how desperate the National Coalition Party and Center Party are and how they constantly label asylum seekers and migrants as a threat.

In the YLE interview Orpo uses the term, “illegal uncontrolled immigration,” to describe the over 700,000 asylum seekers that have come to Europe so far this year. The term “uncontrolled immigration” is a pet term used by far right anti-immigration parties.

Is it the fault of people who are fleeing war and entering Europe “illegally” as Orpo claims or is it his fault for not doing enough?

I wouldn’t be surprised if the next thing that Sipilä’s government and the European Commission give Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán a warm pat on the back for building a wall to keep asylum seekers out.

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.