Why was former PM Sipilä’s government so xenophobic? Will the new government change matters?

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Only MP Ozan Yanar, Jani Toivola and for about two years Nasima Razmyar, or 1.5% of all 200 MPs during the 2015-2019 term, were the only visible minorities in parliament. In the present 2019-2021 term, matters aren’t much better: Bella Forsgrén and Hussein al-Taee, who is on sick leave, are the only MPs who are visible minorities.

While there are many reasons why former Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s government was one of the most hostile towards visible migrants, especially Muslim asylum seekers, the Islamophobic Perussuomalaiset (PS)* played a crucial role in the government’s tightening of immigration policy and bolstering Finland’s hostile environment.

A group picture of Finland’s MPs taken in 2017. Can you spot a minority? Source: Eduskunta.

With the last parliamentary election in April, new hope arose when the Social Democrats, Green League, Center Party, Left Alliance, and Swedish People’s Party formed a new government.

Even if there is hope that this government will be less xenophobic than the previous one, all of the ministers in Prime Minister Rinne’s government are white. One positive matter, however, is that 11 of the 19 ministers are women.

Can you spot a minister that isn’t white in Prime Minister Antti Rinne’s government? Source: Yle.

So what do these two pictures tell us?

They clearly state that there is too little if no minority representation in parliament as MPs and in the government as ministers.

Am I hopeful that matters will change for the better during Prime Minister Rinne’s government?

Experience has taught me to see deeds first and then offer an opinion later.

The Perussuomalaiset (PS) party imploded on June 13, 2017, into two factions, the PS and New Alternative, which is now called Blue Reform. In the last parliamentary election, Blue Reform has wiped off the Finnish political map when they saw their numbers in parliament plummet from 18 MPs to none. A direct translation of Perussuomalaiset in English would be something like “basic” or “fundamental Finn.” Official translations of the Finnish name of the party, such as Finns Party or True Finns, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and racism. We, therefore, at Migrant Tales prefer to use in our postings the Finnish name of the party once and after that the acronym PS.