Politics on the Streets of Helsinki - Finland


It wasn't until I reached Helsinki on my birthday that I first found out how much of a hot topic immigration is shaping up to be in the Europe, especially the Nordic countries (Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark).  Fears over diluting culture and straining social programs have lead to far right-wing parties gaining a foothold in what are typically left-leaning countries.  

7 months later, and the Finnish elections have given the "True Finns" party 19% of the seats compared with only 4% in 2007.  Compared to the Tea Party (albeit only in some ways) making headlines in the USA after their last election, immigration is one of their main policies set for change.

From a recent BBC Article:

"They believe that a low birth rate is not solved by immigration, as that results in problems and foreigners do not fit into Finnish culture. Instead, young women should study less and spend more time giving birth to pure Finnish children. That is like a faint echo of Nazi ideology."

So these countries need more labour, and aren't having all that many children.  Gotta get some skilled people to design all those Nokia phone somewhere...

Coming from Canada, where our immigration numbers are about a quarter million per year (the highest per capita in the world), it was a little strange for immigration to be seen in such a negative light as I've seen in this part of the world.  That said, although it makes the news quite a bit, the majority of people I meet are appalled by the political swing this issue has taken in recent years.

My ancestors immigrated to Canada about 100 years ago.  I guess that holds a bit of significance for shaping my point of view.  What does immigration mean to you?


Shot on September 20th, 2010 

This image was was a runner up in a Matador Traveler's Notebook contest called "The Story in the Picture"