Government wins confidence vote over immigration policy, family reunification

Opposition parties the Finns Party and Movement Now submitted a motion of no confidence over the government's handling of immigration into Finland.

Interior Minister and leader of the Green Party Maria Ohisalo speaking to Parliament. Image: Emmi Korhonen / Lehtikuva

The government won a confidence vote in Parliament on Friday afternoon by 89 votes to 68, with 42 abstentions.

The vote was prompted by a motion of no confidence submitted by the Finns Party and Movement Now over the government's handling of immigration, in particular planned changes to Finland's policy on the granting of asylum based on family reunification.

In the motion, the opposition parties had argued that Finland would become "too attractive" an option for people seeking humanitarian asylum in comparison to other western European countries.

The parties also criticised the government's asylum seeker quotas as well as querying how prepared the current administration was for a possible future immigration crisis.

The two other opposition parties in — the National Coalition Party (NCP) and the Christian Democrats — did not join the motion, but both parties expressed their lack of trust in the government's handling of the issue.

During a plenary debate on Wednesday, Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo (Green) denied the opposition parties' charge that Finland was moving away from the wider European line on immigration policy.

"It is clear that the current situation on the borders with Belarus and the uncertainty about the future of Afghanistan are challenging the EU and its member states in many ways. At the same time, solutions are being sought to ensure that asylum in the EU continues to be possible in accordance with our international commitments," Ohisalo told Parliament on Wednesday.

The five government parties are still negotiating the terms of a draft proposal that would facilitate family reunifications for those who have been granted asylum in Finland.