Center Party chairperson and minister for culture, Annika Saarikko, is the type of leadership Finland needs today unless it wants to climb out of its deep xenophobic pit spearheaded by the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* party.
Considering that her party is being targeted by the PS, which bases its support on spreading suspicion and anti-immigration sentiment, Saarikko’s was quoted as saying in Helsingin Sanomat that Finland needs 10,000 migrants a year to avert a labor shortage is bold considering the attacks by the PS and recent opinion polls.
In the face of Saarikko’s prediction, Finland will find it especially hard to get out of its xenophobic pit if politicians are silent, policymakers are silent, and the public is silent about how to make Finland a more inclusive country and to rid it of politicians who polarize society.
- A Migrant Tales style guide to writing about migration: avoid words that hide our racism and denial (5.3.2021)
- Silence is a statement, acceptance of racism in Finland (16.8.2019)
- Our response to racism, bigotry and hate speech in Finland should be first and foremost a reaction (23.3.2016)
In early March, an opinion poll published by Yle showed that the Center Party was hovering at around historic lows of 11% and trailing the PS by 5.9 percentage points.
One of the aims of PS leader Jussi Halla-aho is that the Center Party will suffer a stinging blow in the municipal elections of June 13. This would force the party to leave the government, leading to its downfall and new elections, where the PS would win and have Halla-aho as prime minister.
One matter is clear: If Finland is to shake off and challenge anti-immigration sentiment, politicians like Saarikko must say it clearly and loudly.
“Anti-immigration sentiment has spread so far that even today labor immigration is started to see in a negative light,” she was quoted as saying in Helsingin Sanomat. “Such an attitude isn’t possible because of what Finland’s dependency ratio [labor shortage and tax base] is. Many may ask what about Finns getting employed. Yes, but when that is not enough either.”
The party that is against bringing labor immigrants to Finland is none other than the PS.