Poll: Attitudes ease toward immigration
One in four would send foreigners out of Finland if unemployment rises
Finnish attitudes toward immigration have eased considerably from what they were a year ago, even though voices opposed to immigration have featured prominently on online discussion boards and in other public media.
According to a poll commissioned by Helsingin Sanomat and conducted by TNS Gallup, 44 per cent of Finns feel that more immigrants should be taken into Finland. An equal number are opposed to more immigration.
Last year six out of ten were against taking in more immigrants. That poll was taken at a time when Finland was recovering from the sharp recession of 2009 when GDP declined by more than eight per cent.
The survey showed that 58 per cent of people in the Helsinki region felt that immigration was a good thing while only 37 per cent of people in rural areas felt the same way. This may be seen as a reflection of differing economic realities.
Examined against a background of political party affiliation, only 13 per cent of supporters of the Green League are opposed to more immigrants. Also opposed to additional immigration are 23 per cent of Left Alliance supporters, 40 per cent of SDP supporters, 44 per cent of National Coalition Party supporters, 54 per cent of Centre Party supporters, and 75 per cent of True Finns supporters.
Analysing the outcome, Juhani Pehkonen of TNS Gallup says that opinions on immigration have not hardened, and that negative attitudes have declined from last year.
“It’s all right to come to Finland to work, if people adapt to conditions here and try to be as Finnish as possible”, Pehkonen concludes on the basis of the data.
A survey taken five years ago showed that exactly 50 per cent of Finns agreed either completely or partially with the view that “everyone who wants to come to Finland to live and work must be allowed to come here”. Now the figure has risen to 64 per cent.
Most Finns do not accept overt discrimination only three per cent feel that it is always all right, not to hire a Roma for a job even if he or she would be more skilled and experienced than an applicant from the majority population, while 16 per cent say that it might be acceptable in some situations.
Positive discrimination is also opposed by most Finns. Only 18 per cent say that it could be reasonable in some situations to place an immigrant at the front of a housing queue.
Such affirmative action was considered by acceptable by 26 per cent of supporters of the Green League and 28 per cent of supporters of the Left Alliance, who were the ones who took the most positive attitude toward minorities, and who were the least likely to recognise racism within themselves.
One in four Finns at least partially agreed with the idea that if unemployment increases, some of the foreigners in Finland should be sent away.
Although the deportation of unemployed immigrants is not something that could actually be implemented, the response indicates a certain sharpening of the attitudes of some people in a time of economic difficulty.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Poll: long road ahead to universal acceptance of minorities (17.11.2011)
Poll: Majority of Finns see Finland as racist country (14.11.2011)
HS interview: President Halonen urges Finns to dare defend victims of racism (15.11.2011)