Then Perussuomalaiset (PS)* head Timo Soini celebrated the party’s historic 2011 election victory as a “jytky,” or a loud bang. We may witness in April a counter “jytky.”
I live in a small city of about 53,000 people 230km north of Helsinki’s capital. It is a good example of the demographic challenges facing Finland. Occasionally, you may read in the local daily, Länsi-Savo, the threat of an ever-growing population of pensioners is threatening the region’s future.
None of the stories in the daily ask if Mikkeli has awoken too late to challenge the demographic problem.
To give you some fast figures, in 2022, 27,2% of Mikkeli’s population was over 64 years old and growing!
In many respects, Mikkeli is an extreme cosmos of Finland.
As we know, migration is a hot topic, especially during an election year. The PS, traditionally bases its popularity on the topic. Instead of making our society more welcoming to foreigners and offering them inclusive paths towards being a part of it, the medicine it prescribes is far worse than the illness.
Below are some of PS head Riikka Purra’s latest policy statements:
- Eight years of residence, speaking near-perfect Finnish, and work, before granting a permanent residence permit;
- Raise the residence requirement for citizenship to 10 years from five years now;
- Tighten further language requirements for the naturalization test;
- Only citizens of OECD countries can have dual citizenship;
- Exclude foreigners from getting social welfare;
- Tighten further already strict family reunification requirements;
- Only people within the EU can apply for asylum;
- End labor immigration from outside the EU;
- Only highly educated people from outside the EU can move to Finland.
In many respects, the 2023 parliamentary election of April 2 is a watershed for the country. After 12 years of the radical-right party’s election victory of 2011, when it saw its numbers in parliament swell to 39 seats from 5 seats, will we see a big setback for the PS since its message is out of touch with the times?
I believe we will. More parties, politicians, business leaders, and public officials are speaking out against the PS’ xenophobic message.
The PS has done poorly in the last two elections, and the third this April may prove worse.