MPs throughout Europe are opportunistically using the xenophobia card to boost their chances of getting reelected. This is the case of Suna Kymäläinen, a Social Democrat (SDP), who is eyeing the April 2015 parliamentary elections in Finland.
Read full story (in Finnish) here.
Kymäläinen is a sad example of how politicians who don’t belong to anti-immigration parties like the Perussuomalaiset (PS), like to stir up anti-foreign sentiment in order to optimize their chances of getting reelected.
We saw this electoral strategy with dire consequences in 2010, when SDP chairman Jutta Urpilainen, flirting with the PS by infamously stating maassa maan tavalla, or in Rome do as the Romans do. In plain English her statement meant if you don’t behave like us you can go bak to where you came from.
Just like Prime Minister David Cameron and the Tories feel the anti-EU and anti-immigration UKIP breathing down their necks, they have only themselves to blame. Cameron’s anti-immigration and anti-EU rhetoric has not swayed support to the UKIP but strengthened it.
Finland showed in 2011 that you cannot flirt with an anti-immigration, far right or populist party because you’ll lose.
That is exactly what happened in our country to the run up to the 2011 parliamentary elections. The PS can thank the euro crisis, Portugal’s financial bailout a week before the elections, National Coalition Party chairman Jyrki Katainen, and Urpilainen for helping Timo Soini’s party gain 39 seats in parliament from just 5 in 2007.
In March 2010 Katainen opened the floodgates of anti-immigrant sentiment in Finland by stating that debating immigrant issues didn’t make you a racist. Some saw Katainen’s statement as a green light to racists.
It’s sad that politicians like Kylmäläinen haven’t learned from past mistakes as is the case with the PS and UKIP.
If the draft bill that would prohibit non-EU citizens from purchasing land in Finland ever becomes law, some believe that it will have a negative impact on businesses especially in eastern Finland that depend on Russian tourists.
Probably the most incredible matter is not the bill and how it reveals our age-old xenophobia of Russians, but how politicians like Kymäläinen deny that is has nothing to do with racism or discrimination.
During a May Day rally on Thursday, Kymäläinen denied that she is a racist. “The smear campaign is pointless,” she continued. “It just shows how little people know about the foreign problem.”
Isn’t it surprising how some politicians absolve themselves of all guilt when they are accused of being xenophobic, racist or anti-Russian? Any sensible person would not waste his or her time figuring out if Kymäläinen is racist or not. The question is if her bill is.
Taking into account the weaknesses of Kymäläinen’s arguments for the draft bill in the face of ever-growing anti-Russian and intolerance throughout Finland and Europe, there are other issues that the bill brings to light.
Two of these are: Why are you targeting Russians and are you trying to score brownie points for your election campaign in 2015?