Two important questions arise in light of the upcoming Euro MP and parliamentary elections in Finland in 2014 and 2015, respectively: How many parties will use immigration as an election issue, and will the next two elections reveal the ugly face of intolerance of other political parties in Finland?
If we look at the United Kingdom, there are clear signs that the Conservatives are using the anti-immigration message to boost their standing in the polls.
If the Tories have been able to gain on Labor and Ukip thanks to their anti-immigration message, will political parties jump on the same bandwagon as elections near?
We saw clearly how intolerance made its way into Finnish politics especially since 2008. As the right-wing populist Perussuomalaiset (PS) were becoming a political sensation, the reaction of other parties was shameful to say the least. Instead of challenging the PS’ anti-EU and anti-immigration message, they approved it with their silence and patronizing.
We all remember SDP chairwoman Jutta Urplilainen’s infamous maassa maan tavalla (in Rome do as the Romans do) statement and National Coalition Party head Jyrki Katainen’s affirmation, “debating immigrant issues didn’t make you a racist.”
Even today, Urpilainen’s statement is still used with gusto by some Finns. Some teachers use it to justify their ignorance and their own discriminatory behavior against other ethnic groups.
Politicians and the media must learn to lead and not cave in to pernicious ideologies that promote intolerance. We must look further than 2014 and 2015 if we want to keep Finland a successful society based on social equality for all.
PS chairman Timo Soini has claimed that the April 2011 historic election victory was mainly due to anti-EU and to a lesser degree on anti-immigration sentiment. The affirmation, in my opinion, is a good example of how racism is defended and protected in Finland.
Our intolerance is like having a gun hidden under our pillow. We can use it whenever we need to but we won’t tell anyone that we have such a firearm hidden in our bed.
There are already some clear signs that the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party is investing in the anti-immigration campaign message to lure voters. Riikka Slunga-Poutsalo of the PS “demanded” right after she was elected as the party’s new secretary that Finland should tighten immigration policy.
If the anti-immigration message picks up in the next two years, and there is no reason to believe otherwise, the biggest loser will be Finland.
Our society will not only lose demographically, but economically, socially and politically as well. Anti-immigration means being anti-foreign. Being anti-foreign in a globalized world is like shooting oneself in the leg and curing your wound with populist mumbo jumbo incantations.
It is like putting a noose around our necks as a society.