One of the questions Migrant Tales asked after we saw support for the Perussuomalaiset (PS)* plummet in YLE’s latest poll is that the result is bad news for migrants and minorities in Finland because the populist party will step up its anti-immigration rhetoric and measures.
We got a taste of the latter Friday, when Social and Welfare Minister Hanna Mäntylä, who is well known for her anti-immigration views, announced that those that come as asylum seekers and get a residence permit from March 1, 2016 will see their social welfare drop significantly.
Mäntylä believes that by lowering social welfare assistance to refugees will discourage others from coming to Finland. Mäntylä’s message is clear: People aren’t fleeing war in the Middle East they are only coming here to live off our social welfare.
Sakari Tiimonen, writes in his latest blog entry about the planned cuts by Mäntylä: “I don’t know if the question is [her] ignorance of the constitution and the social welfare system or just panicking about the loss and hoping not to lose any more [PS party] support, but this sure looks like harassment.”
And that is exactly what it is, harassment and hostility towards refugees that applies to every migrant and minority that lives in Finland.
Mäntylä should be aware of Pekka Myskylä’s findings, which showed that the majority of migrants in Finland live in poverty and get lower social security than natives Finns.
The record plunge in support for the PS means a lethal blow to the party. Taking into account the huge cuts in public spending that the government plans, it’s highly doubtful that the PS will ever see a new spike in support.
While the PS have tried to demonize migrants for years by asking questions like how much does immigration cost to Finland, we could make the same question of the PS. How much did their foray into Finnish politics cost the country in the way of investment, skilled labor and a precious commodity such as time.
It has been a costly experiment that has led to nothing good for Finland unless you believe that a polarized society is a good matter.
* The Finnish name of the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English-language names 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.