Immigrants in Finland will soon be entitled to choose 50 representatives for a planned “Immigrant Parliament of Finland”. The first elections for the body will coincide with next year’s elections of the Finnish Parliament.
Founders of the Immigrant Parliament say that the planned body will be the first in the world. It has no official status in Finland, but organisers hope that it could influence public opinion.
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The aim of the body is to give a voice to immigrants in the Finnish immigration debate.
The father of the idea, Alexis Kouros, sees the parliament as a politically and religiously independent body.
“So far, the debate has been a monologue of the dominant population. The Parliament will turn it into a dialogue. It is harder to bypass its opinion than that of an individual immigrant”, Kouros explains.
Those eligible to vote in the election of the Immigrant Parliament will be foreigners who have lived in Finland for at least two years, foreign-born Finnish citizens, and the adult children of immigrants.
Candidates for the body must also meet the same requirements.
If each group of immigrants were to vote for their own citizens, the largest national groups in the body would be the Russians and the Estonians. Other large groups include Somalis, Chinese, Iraqis, Thai, and Germans, numbering between 5,000 and 7,000 each.
Those behind the project believe, however, that matters other than ethnic background will affect how people vote.
“We don’t want the Immigrant Parliament to be a place where people only talk about female circumcision. The same things are important to us that are important to others, but we have new points of view”, says Professor Jeremy Gould, one of the founders of the idea.
Source: HS (English)