Finance Minister Katri Kulmuni’s grotesque Internet poll is a symptom of a wider social problem in Finland

by , under Enrique Tessieri

The Center Party of Finland is a liability to the future of Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s government. We already saw how they forced former Prime Minister Antti Rinne to resign. And then, we witnessed Finance Minister Katri Kulmuni’s Instagram poll.

Kulmuni’s post not only exposed her total disregard for human lives and the country’s international obligations but was a warning that some politicians, even ministers, are ready to leave the fate of their citizens to public opinion and chance.

She asked in the Instagram poll whether it would be ok repatriating “[Finnish] children only” or “children and [Finnish] mothers” from the al-Hol camp in Syria.

Andrew Stroehlein of Human Rights Watch was one of many who were awestruck what Kulmuni’s post. “Seriously, Finland? This is awful, if true,” he tweeted Thursday.

Finland has always been good at getting the maximum mileage from its international image by hiding its problematic social sore spots.

One of these is women’s rights and equality. Women still make about 20% less than men and a recent survey found Finland to be the second-most violent country for women.

Even if some brag about how Finland became the first to grant women the right to vote in 1906, it was not until 1984 when women were able to grant citizenship to their children through jus sanguinis.

Finland also had draconian laws against foreigners and foreign investment thanks to the Restricting Act of 1939 (Law 219/1939), which was made redundant in 1992.

Moreover, Finland got its first Aliens Act in 1983, or about 66 years after independence in 1917. Finland had total disregard for human rights when in the Cold War it returned Soviet citizens back to the USSR without granting asylum. Finland has serious issues with racism, hate crime and asylum policy.

Finland was also the last Nordic country to legalize gay marriages in 2014.

And here lay the question of questions that reveal how deep our collective heads are stuck in the mud: How can such a perfect society, which is supposed to be the happiest in the world, have an openly racist and misogynist party like the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* leading in the polls?

Even if our media scores high on the World Press Freedom Index, why is much of the reporting uncritical when it comes to serious social issues like migrant and minority discrimination and rights? The fact far-right populism is breathing down the necks of mainstream parties is a good indication of the failure of the media to challenge such social ills.

Let’s get real. What Finance Minister Kulmuni posted is a symptom of our denial in confronting those sore spots that only help cover and play down our more serious social problems.

The sooner we understand this, the sooner we can begin to start making Finland a good country to live in for all of its inhabitants irrespective of their backgrounds.