Finland’s about-turn in immigration and asylum policy reveal populism and suspicion

by , under Enrique Tessieri

There is an interesting article in newsmagazine Suomen Kuvalehti that claims that before Finland gave 85% of asylum seekers a positive decision today it’s almost the opposite. 

The article quotes National Coalition Party (NCP) Interior Minister Paula Risikko, who claims that Finland’s hardline stance is the same as Sweden’s and no different from the EU concerning Iraqis.

“It [refugee policy] isn’t [different], on the contrary,” she was quoted as saying in Suomen Kuvalehti. “Finland gives its support to the commission to renew [and implement] a common a common refugee policy [for the EU]. The aim is to prevent abuse of the asylum procedure and to counter the ongoing illegal movement of asylum seekers from country to country and harmonize policy on this.”

If we study closer Risikko’s statement, it’s clear that it has nothing to do with reality but is purely political and based on suspicion of Iraqis, the biggest national group that came to Finland from fall 2015.

Moreover, her suspicion isn’t only seen in her statement but in the harsh laws that the government has proposed and passed that tighten immigration and refugee policy.

Read full story here.

One good matter that asylum seekers have given Finland is that they have exposed our ineffective immigration and integration policy as well as our exceptionalism and denial of racism.

Another matter that asylum seekers have exposed about our society is the ignorance and/or outright opposition of too many politician to our constitution and Nordic state values such as social equality.

Sunday’s harsh criticism of the Finnish government by the Chancellor of Justice Jaakko Jonka and professors Göran Djupsund and Kimmo Grönlund in Sunday’s Helsingin Sanomat sheds light on the crisis that Finland is in.

Writes Teivo Teivainen in a blog entry: “One of his main tasks is to supervise the lawfulness of the official acts of the government. His [Chancellor of Justice Jonka’s] comments suggested in calm but clear manner that the current government has repeatedly sidestepped constitutional considerations when making law proposals in the parliament.”

The government – should it surprise us – has “sidestepped constitutional considerations” when drafting laws that especially affect asylum seekers and migrants in Finland.

Since the treatment of asylum seekers by the government is an embarrassment to those that believe in human rights and the rule of law, it’s understandable that ministers like Risikko are doing everything possible to rid Finland of asylum seekers.

And there is also another factor that is at play: The populist anti-immigration Perussuomalaiset* party shares power with the Center Party and NCP.

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. The direct translation of “Perussuomalaiset” is “basic” or “fundamental Finn.”