Finland needs every now and then a wake-up call from the outside world. Columnist Eric Erfors of the Swedish tabloid Expressen, asks how is it possible that a person like Perussuomalaiset (PS) MP Jussi Halla-aho, which he calls a ”pure racist,” was eligible to become a deputy member of Finland’s delegation to the Council of Europe?
Erfors considered Halla-aho’s appointment to the Council of Europe as asking a pyromaniac to extinguish a fire.
Read full story (in Swedish) here.
Erfors states that it would be highly unlikely that Halla-aho would be accepted in the far-right anti-immigration Sweden Democrats. ”No [he wouldn’t be accepted] because it would be in conflict with its new image, which the party is trying to create” he writes.
Another Finnish politician that didn’t receive high marks on his column was Christian Democrat Interior Minister Päivi Räsänen, whose lowly views of gays, immigrants who aren’t Christians and minorities like the Roma are well-known.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone why Räsänen’s approval rating among the PS is so high.
The interesting question that Erfors poses to us in Finland is how did we arrive to such a point where a “pure racist” like Halla-aho was elected to parliament and ultra-conservative Räsänen appointed interior minister? What does it reveal about the present state of this country?
For one, it shows that the views of these two politicians have a home in Finland and go down well with many voters. But we’d have to look at Finland’s history to understand why we vote a “pure racist” to parliament and approve an ultra-conservative in government.
During most of our independence, Finland viewed the outside world with mistrust and did everything possible to discourage immigrants and foreign investment from coming to this country. Imagine the myths and “us”-versus-“them” mentality you have to drive home to reinforce your suspicions of foreigners from one generation to the next.
Halla-aho’s and Räsänen’s “appeal” is today a liability to Finland because it, if anything, is impoverishing this country politically, socially and what’s important, economically.
Instead of finding proactive solutions to our problems as is common in a Nordic welfare democracy, we are regressing in our worst prejudices with the weapon of scapegoating.
Finland needs leadership to challenge these threats that have already impacted our society in a negative manner.
I’m certain that leadership will come when our cultural diversity is strong enough and can stand on its feet.