EDITORIAL: Finnish immigration debate

by , under All categories, Enrique

By Enrique Tessieri

Is the present one-sided and passionate debate on immigration in Finland going to turn ugly? Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Stubb poured some needed cold water on the debate by stating that it “reeks of racism, nationalism, populism, and xenophobia.”

The wayward and reckless route has even frightened some of its main perpetrators. Probably fearing a backlash to all immigrants, Jussi Halla-aho of the True Finns said that the majority of Finns are not against immigration as a Helsingin Sanomat poll showed. He said that the poll should have asked whether Finns want more refugees from countries such as Somalia and Iraq.

The statement by Halla-aho and the poll by Helsingin Sanomat do not tell us anything new. How many countries can you name where its inhabitants favor more immigration? How many believe their country has too few immigrants?

Opinion polls and attitude studies of immigrants in Finland reflect the same patronizing stances as the one-sided debate on immigration. They explain why our near-non-existent immigration policy has failed and why too many immigrants live marginalized from Finnish society.

Social Democratic Party (SDP) chairman, Jutta Urpilainen, stoked the immigrant-debate fires on Saturday when she blamed the government and immigrants for the problem.

Taking into account the lack of jobs in Finland and high immigrant unemployment, Urpilainen said that the SDP’s new immigration program would not only force people to learn the Finnish or Swedish language, but they would have to get off unemployment as well. She did not elaborate if unemployed immigrants were on the dole because they were taking advantage of the system or that they did not learn Finnish or Swedish because they did not want to.

At the present rate those who don’t want immigrants to come to Finland are sitting pretty. The present one-sided debate is not only forcing immigrants to reconsider their residences in Finland but scaring off potential newcomers.

Why would anyone want to move to such a hostile country where the immigration debate is one-sided and  “reeks of racism, nationalism, populism, and xenophobia?”

  1. Martin-Éric

    Urpilainen failed to acknowledge that the mess we currently live in got started ages ago, back when SDP had both of the ministries related to immigration. With the likes of Tarja Filatov as the Ministry of Labor (who more or less had the same portfolio that is currently under Thors at Immigration, in addition to the usual Labor issues) and Kari Rajamäki as the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Finland had one of the worst handling of Immigration affairs ever. No resource allocated to language learning, no resource allocated to eliminating discrimination in the labor market, pointlessly short residence permits that prevented mobility within an employment sector because they were tied to a specific employer, etc. As such, SDP can only blame itself for the mess that Astrid Thors currently has to straighten up.

    • Enrique

      Hi Martin-Éric, you could not have said it better. The SDP has had a terrible immigration policy. Some of their members, such as Kari Rajamäki, former interior minister, are difficult to distinguish whether they are socialists or belong to the True Finn’s party. The Finnish SDP is a joke when it comes to immigration policy. They should align themselves with the True Finns on this issue. They have a lot in common.

  2. Martin-Éric

    The point is that, in practice, this country doesn’t have any party on the Left side of the political spectrum. By the time someone notices that every party is potentially racist (yes, even the Greens) and devoted to the indoctrination of a nation of over-educated payroll wage slaves, there isn’t much left to say about this country’ political life.

    • Enrique

      Hi Martin-Éric, tell me how many political parties in Finland have an official immigration policy. None. This explains very well how much in diapers immigration issues are in Finland. Why do they waste so much time? Why not tell would-be immigrants that Finland does not want anyone to move here? That they are not ready even to take a minimum few immigrants because it would upset and tear this society to shreds?

    • Enrique

      –Because it would be politically damageable for the country to dare say it out loud.

      Or how about political opportunism, chicanery and lack of foresight and leadership? I think that sums it up very well even though some have had the guts to call a spade a spade.

    • Enrique

      –Like Halla-aho…

      Really? I would call him a populist alarmist.

  3. Tuomas

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds a bit like you have all but thrown in the towel and are saying there is no party or candidate in Finland worth voting for, when it comes to this issue.

    If this is really true, I’d like to ask both of you what is it that you think should or can be done about the situation. Or if there is anything to be done but wait until the younger generation takes over and these things can be discussed properly.

    • Enrique

      Hi Tuomas, you throw a good question and I will try to answer it.

      In Finland there are no parties that have an official policy on immigration. I said NO party. This makes it very difficult to find out what they really think and what they want to do concerning immigration. As you know, in each of the political parties there are people who are for and against immigration. Even one of the legendary SMP leaders (today True Finns) such as Urpo Leppänen had a black wife called Ana. He seemed to have no problems about this. We live in politically strange times: parliamentary elections in 2011 and the recession, which shows no time of ending. The political parties made a gentleman’s agreement that they would not bring up immigration during this term.