Finland: 59% against more immigration

Finland: 59% against more immigration

In 2007, 56% supported more immigration and 36% were against. Today, there's a complete reversal: 36% support more immigration and 59% are against.


According to a survey commissioned by Helsingin Sanomat and conducted by Suomen Gallup, nearly 60 per cent of Finns now feel that Finland should not increase the number of immigrants.

Some three years ago, only 36 per cent of Finns were critical about additional immigrants.

The number of those Finns who are ready to welcome more immigrants has come down by as many as 20 percentage points compared with the corresponding figure in 2007.

”Since the 1980s, Finns’ attitudes toward immigration have become more and more positive, until quite recently. This is a significant change that interrupts a long trend”, says Heikki Ervasti, a social policy professor at the University of Turku.

One of the reasons for this change is sharpened public debate concerning immigration policy and foreigners.

”As immigration is not yet any major phenomenon in Finland, relatively few Finns have personal contacts with immigrants, which is why individual citizens’ views have hardly had any significant impact on the public opinion”, Ervasti argues.

A new development in Finns’ attitudes could be seen already a year ago.

In March 2009, the proportion of those opposed to taking more immigrants was 44 per cent.

”During a recession, people’s attitudes begin to turn more critical, and politicians are keen to benefit from it”, estimates professor of social psychology Karmela Liebkind from the University of Helsinki.

Liebkind has been studying the tone of immigration debates and the ethnic relations in Finland already for 30 years.

Liebkind’s views are shared by Said Aden, the Chairman of the Finnish Somali League.

”Opinions have changed. At the time of economic growth, politicians were flying flags for a more liberal immigration policy”, Aden notes.

”Today the atmosphere is strained. Name calling and out-of-line remarks are frequently heard”, Aden adds.


Source: HS (English)

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