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Immigrants in Finland: Part 2
by Edna Nelson
2009-06-06 09:14:04
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Because I was feeling so left out of the Pre-Election process for the EU-Parliament I decided to contact all the political parties here in Finland and find out what was on their mind relating to Immigrants. After hearing that Minister Wallin (SFP) had made a proposal against supporting outwardly xenophobic candidates for the EU-Parliamentary elections I was really interested in what the other groups had to say for themselves.

I sent requests for a statement on immigrants to all the political parties in Finland. Offering the opportunity to participate in a project directed toward informing non-Finnish speaking voters in Finland of their agenda, I was hoping that all parties would respond quickly and that the more liberal parties who I would be most likely to support would have the best responses. Funnily enough, the only responses I received were from the more conservative parties Kokoomus (National Coalition Party) and The Christian Democratic Party (Suomen Kristillisdemokraatit). This is what they had to say:

In order to actively further the integration of immigrants and advocating their voice being heard in its own community as well as the political activities, the Christian Democrats have founded an immigrant network. An immigrant committee has been formed out of the members of the immigrant network, and it works alongside the other committees of the party. Annually, the immigrant committee organizes a citizen's event open to all in Helsinki.

The English language members of the Christian Democratic Party founded their own chapter in Helsinki in 2004. In 2005, the Russian speaking chapter was founded in Helsinki, and an international chapter has also been founded in Turku.

The monthly meetings of the Christian Democratic English chapter take place in the Parliament House in Helsinki. The meetings are intended for immigrants who speak English, also people born in Finland are welcome to participate. The idea is to activate immigrants to participate in societal matters and the issues that are particularly important to them. Welcome!

For further information please contact saara.ruokonen@kd.fi

The Christian Democratic Party has actively recruited immigrants to run as candidates in all elections. In the last local elections in 2004, out of all the parties the Christian Democrats had the second largest number of candidates with immigrant background.


The European Union often advertises itself as "unified in diversity". It is a difficult way to say that "different looking people speaking different languages get together to build something  valuable". We in Kokoomus (National Coalition Party) believe that diversity – differences between people, multiculturalism – is an asset. Something beneficial for us. We strongly believe in tolerance,  in the equality of both people and opportunities. We believe everyone should get a chance, we believe in education, we believe that work is the best social policy.

"The goal should not only be to abolish discrimination, but to accept and appreciate diversity. The world would be quite a dull place to live in if we were all alike. Societal development derives from the dynamics of being different"

Sirpa Pietikäinen, MEP and candidate in EP election

Finland will need foreign work force especially in a few years’ time, when the current crisis in world economy has given way to fast growth - and lack of labour. We also believe that we need to take global responsibility and offer help for those in need. We need an open debate of immigration issues, and we need to improve foreigners’ integration to our society. We need to make sure those immigrants already living in Finland can find work, get education and make friends with Finns. It is of utmost importance that immigrants, new Finns, find their place in the society and also take part in reforming it by voting and by participating in political movements or NGOs.

Language is the key to all this, and Kokoomus minister of education has forcefully driven forward better and longer language training for immigrants. According to the decisions of the Party Congress of 2008, Kokoomus encourages its own members to actively communicate and build ties with immigrants and find friends in ethnic and linguistic communities. Kokoomus also encourages employers to employ immigrant workers and to promote tolerance in work places all over Finland. Learning the Finnish language should be the core of the integration programme (kotoutusohjelma).

"We all know that immigrants are very much needed in Finland now and in the future, but we still have problems in providing sufficient tools for language learning, integration and employment. While a lot has been done, more resources should be available. Also attitudes need to be changed. Finland can still become a model for successfully combining integration and cultural diversity."

Nina Suomalainen,senior expert in development policy and candidate in EP election

Kokoomus is the party with the most positive attitude to international relations and to European integration – the EU as a whole. Finland is a small country but can make a difference in the EU – and on the world stage -  with the right people with the right attitude, the right know-how and especially with the right drive! In a global world we need to act on bigger arenas. Voting in the European Parliament election on June 7 is a privilege. Use your right to vote.

Check us out in www.kokoomus.fi/eu_languages and read more in the English pages: http://www.kokoomus.fi/in_english/. And Kokoomus candidates for European election you will find here (in Finnish): www.kokoomus.fi/eurovaalit/ehdokkaat

Kind regards,


What strikes me more than anything that might be said to critique these responses is the fact that they were sent in the first place. Out of all the political parties in Finland that one might expect a positive focus on immigration from, The Greens (Vihreät), The Left Party (VL), and the Social Democratic Party(SDP), there were no responses, but from the conservatives there were not only responses, but responses that made sense. The Christian Democrats demonstrate their effort to include immigrants in their party through languages centered groups, and Kokoomus laid out their ideas about immigrants here and how Finland might improve opportunities and integration potential for immigrants here.

I can't say that I am happy to write this, or that I am planning on voting for either party, although Kokoomus sounds like they have a good plan "work is the best social policy." sounds a little to American Capitalist for me, and I heard the Christian Democrats are affiliated with the "True Finns". The question here is, regardless of who I am voting for (probably The Green's) where are you SDP; VL and Vihreät? Despite having good track records with immigrants, it would have been nice to get a response. Yes. being immigrant friendly is about good policies, but it's about being willing to join the discussion as well.

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Alexander Mikhaylov2009-06-07 03:45:37
'where are you SDP; VL and Vihreät? Despite having good track records with immigrants, it would have been nice to get a response.'
Yes. too bad they forgot to include you - Mrs. Nelson from New York, in their policy making

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