Few parties put emphasis on immigration policy
Judging from the policy programmes of Finland’s political parties, immigration policy interests only a few of them.
Another typical characteristic is that none of the parties that have been in and out of government for decades, are satisfied with the results of the policy of integrating immigrants.
Helsingin Sanomat examined the immigration policy views of eight Parliamentary parties by studying the parties’ own documents, and by sending a questionnaire to the party leaders.
On the basis of the party programme papers, the Left Alliance had pondered the matter the least. It’s very positive stand on immigration was expressed in about a paragraph.
The True Finns, who have portrayed themselves as challengers in immigration policy, drafted a one-page document on the matter for the 2007 Parliamentary elections, to replace a single sentence that had been written in 2005.
Even the National Coalition Party has been conspicuously scant in its stands on immigration policy.
The Green League has been the most active in dealing with immigration questions.
The Centre Party and the Christian Democrats have detailed programme material on the issue.
In the programmes of most parties, multiculturalism is seen as a positive resource.
A statement issued by the Swedish People’s Party in 2001 specifically calls for more multiculturalism.
The programme of the Centre Party takes a cautious tone, but responses of the party leadership are similar to the views of other parties.
The Christian Democrats emphasise the importance of Finnish culture in situations in which immigration is taking place.
The Swedish People’s Party is the greatest proponent of immigration as a way of fighting an impending labour shortage, but strongly positive stands can also be found in the programmes of the National Coalition Party, the Green League, and the Social Democrats. The Centre and the Christian Democrats emphasise the need to employ today’s Finns. The True Finns declare themselves against bringing people into the country to serve as a “labour reserve”.
Many parties call for faster, and more precise handling of asylum issues.
The National Coalition Party notes that eliminating unfounded asylum requests improves the protection under the law for the other applicants.
The Centre Party feels that it is problematic that asylum-seekers arrive in Finland through other EU countries.
The Greens emphasise that even those asylum seekers who arrive in Finland illegally need to be treated well.
No parties are calling for limiting the granting of residence permits exclusively to those who fit the definition of a refugee.
The Geneva Refugee Treaty defines refugees as people who are persecuted for reasons that are clearly defined, such as race and political opinion. For instance, those fleeing war can be granted asylum for “humanitarian reasons”.
There are both similarities and differences in the views on residence permits of the True Finns party and its controversial Helsinki City Councilman Jussi Halla-aho.
The party is ready to help those who are fleeing a “true human emergency”. Based on his blog entries, Halla-aho wants to limit entry into Finland to actual refugees.
On the other hand, both take the line that the refugee problem should be dealt with near the country of departure, and not by increasing the number of quota refugees taken in by Finland.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Thors open to changes to immigration legislation (16.12.2008)
PM Vanhanen hopes immigration issue will not become blunt instrument in Finnish politics (28.10.2008)
Government immigration bill seen as too lenient by government party MPs (11.12.2008)
What does Jussi Halla-aho really want? (30.11.2008)