Finnish anti-immigration party seeks to ban begging

by , under Enrique

Three Perussuomalaiset (PS) MPs plan to present a bill to Parliament that would ban begging in public places, according to YLE in English.  The aim of the bill has nothing to do with helping the Roma, a group that has suffered persecution in Europe for centuries. Its main aim is to reap political points for an embattled and scandal-ridden party, the PS. 

Scapegoating the Roma by banning begging will only exacerbate the problem by sweeping the issue under the rug. Such a law indirectly casts a shadow as well on Finland’s 10,000-strong Roma community and reinforces our collective suspicion of the group.

The proposed bill is a good example of how the PS are trying, with the municipal elections nearing in October, to capitalize on our xenophobia and racism.  

Why are Roma leaving Romania, Bulgaria and other eastern European countries to come to prosperous Finland? How many Roma are we speaking of? Are those begging on our streets a number-one national issue?  Why is an anti-immigration and especially anti-Muslim party like the PS so interested in banning begging by the Roma?  

Behind all these questions you will find two factors orchestrating the rhetoric from behind: loathing for the Romany minority and political opportunism. 

The aim of the bill is what makes it especially suspect. Writes YLE in English: “The proposal states that begging has a negative impact on public safety and that permitting begging does not reduce the poverty and discrimination that foreign Roma face in their home countries.” 

Two of the PS MPs proposing the bill, Jussi Halla-aho and Olli Immonen, have made their questionable political careers by bashing Muslims and immigrants.  Now their attention has shifted to the Romany minority.  

The third PS MP is Tom Packalén, a policeman.

  1. JusticeDemon


    Your headline is a bit sensationalist. When was the last time a private member’s bill was enacted by the Finnish Parliament – particularly one proposed by opposition MPs? During the last electoral period Arto Satonen secured the signatures of 122 members on his bill (no. 123 of 2007) to reform the law governing the rights of caregivers, but even with this very high level of support for a relatively non-contentious issue the bill was not enacted. Instead it was referred to a Ministry of Labour committee for proper tripartite consultation and preparation.

    A divisive proposal motivated by racism has a snowball’s chance in hell of even reaching the committee stages of parliamentary preparation.

    Tom Packalén seems to be rather keen on criminalising poverty. Another recent private member’s bill (no. 22 of 2012) under his sponsorship seeks to restore the practice of imprisoning the indigent for failing to pay spot fines for minor offences. This bill was signed by 44 members, three-quarters of them from the peruSSuomalaiset.

    As summer progresses, we may also notice that the beggars are disappearing from downtown Helsinki. Instead we now have street musicians and people selling bunches of lucky heather. The only beggars I have seen recently were squaddies shaking the tin for war veterans and bright young people collecting for church and general charities.

    If I ask you for a light in the street, can I be fined and put in prison? How about if I ask you for a cigarette? What if I don’t ask for anything, but simply sit and look needy?

    In a previous discussion on this topic with one of our more rabid contributors I suggested that we might solve the “problem” by issuing a comb and a scrap of greaseproof paper to people begging in the street, thereby converting them into street musicians. I now have a better idea: we should print up a collection of the best articles from Migrant Tales as a penny broadsheet, thereby converting beggars into newspaper vendors in Finland’s home grown equivalent of the Big Issue.

    • Enrique Tessieri

      –we should print up a collection of the best articles from Migrant Tales as a penny broadsheet, thereby converting beggars into newspaper vendors in Finland’s home grown equivalent of the Big Issue.

      Excellent idea, JD! Let’s go for it.

      With respect to the headline, yes, it may be a bit sensationalist. But that goes for YLE in English as well.

      Thank you for reassuring us that this piece of legislation doesn’t have “a snowball’s chance in hell of even reaching the committee stages.”

      I was a bit surprised that Tom Packalén would joint forces with the likes of Halla-aho and Immonen.

  2. JusticeDemon

    To be fair, YLE refers to a proposal. Then again, private members’ bills seldom enjoy this much publicity. Indeed the specific intention of such a bill is often no more than to garner attention, and it’s far from clear that we should even give the sponsors the satisfaction of achieving this ambition.

    There seems to be an element of mutual back-scratching and horse trading in private members’ bills. I get the feeling that signatures are often reciprocal gestures that do not always reflect the strong interests of the signer.

  3. Mark

    It’s not just sensationalist, ET, but also incorrect as stated. It gives the impression that begging will be banned. The wording should be changed. ‘Introduce a bill’ is also a little misleading, as you also ‘introduce into legislation’, which this is not. I would change that to ‘present’, just to be clear. Some days, you definitely need an editor, Enrique. God love ya! 😉

    Sorted! 🙂