Anna-Maja Henriksson boldly critiqued Finland’s current centre-right coalition government on Friday, saying it is deliberately making the country unattractive to the rest of the world.
Henriksson was elected the new chair of Finland’s Swedish People’s Party (SPP) on June 12, after the previous chair Carl Haglund stepped down.
The party is traditionally liberal-centrist, and aims to represent the interests of the minority Swedish-speaking population of Finland. If the autonomous Åland Islands are included, Swedish speakers comprise 5.4 percent of the Finnish population.
The SPP won 9 parliamentary seats out of 200 in the 2015 general elections and is now in the opposition.
New policy inhumane
Henriksson spoke out on Friday against the government-supported changes to Finland’s Aliens Act, commenting that the ruling coalition is acting inhumanely by tightening asylum requirements.
“The government seeks to make and is making Finland the most unappealing place as possible,” she said.
Before beginning its summer recess, the Finnish Parliament approved of stricter legislation on family reunification. Henriksson says that together with the Finnish Immigration Services’ new assessment of the security situation in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, the new harsher law has resulted in a swift uptick of negative asylum decisions.
She raises as an example the recent highly-publicised decision by the immigration authorities to deny asylum to an Iraqi man whom they believed to persecuted in his home country.
“The incident only proves how inhumane our provisions have become,” Henriksson said.
A case of basic Finnish values
Henriksson also said on Friday that she is concerned about the level of public discourse on the immigration issue. She says the increase in the number of racist comments only goes to show that humanity and humanism are missing from the Finnish debate.
“The National Coalition Party and the prime minister’s Centre Party simply must put their foot down and demonstrate that the Finns Party cannot dominate our country and government policy on foreigners and immigration,” she demanded.
The SPP Chair pointed out that the issue is important not only because the fate of people hangs in the balance, but also because it is an indicator of Finland’s fundamental values as a country.