Foreigners are a sizeable but under-served constituency in the upcoming municipal elections, with more than a hundred thousand non-Finnish citizens eligible to vote. Most permanent residents of Finland are eligible to cast a ballot in the poll, but at the last election in 2012 slightly less than 20 percent of eligible foreigners actually voted. That's just a third of the overall turnout figure of 58 percent.
Some 39 percent of those who did vote said they did not have enough information ahead of polling day.
That's why we asked each party to make a pitch in English explaining why foreigners should consider voting for them--and to attend our election debate to answer our questions about their pitch. You can watch the debate online at Yle Areena and Facebook from 2pm on 22 March.
Here's the pitch from Adwoa Brewu of the Christian Democratic Party:
We live in the reality of a growing multicultural and international society. It is predicted that the percentage of people of immigrant background in Finland will grow by about 25% by the year 2030. The number of ageing workforce is also growing rapidly. The demand for labour is on the rise. The Christian democrats believe that immigration is a great resource and therefore, there is the need to recognise, utilise and value the competencies and expertise of immigrants.
The unemployment rate among immigrants is three times higher than their native counterparts. With the high rate of asylum seekers coming into Finland in 2015, this number is likely to shoot up. Promoting small scale entrepreneurship is a way of mitigating the risk.
Statistics show that children from low socioeconomic backgrounds (many of whom are of immigrant background) mostly stand the risk of not having successful performance levels at the comprehensive school level and often become dropouts. The Christian Democrats believe that education is the key to success and therefore school performance must be improved by providing the right environment and teaching assistance to those in need.
Let’s put a stop to school bullying. Every young person irrespective of their ethnicity deserves the possibility to get education after comprehensive school. We also believe that families must be provided with the necessary assistance so that they can support their children's education. Guidance and counselling services, social and financial empowerment is key to supporting families.
In the Christian Democrats' welfare society, local communities create a sense of community and take responsibility for issues of common concern. Local communities are the driving force of local democracy. The safety and comfort of residential areas can be improved by the introduction of neighbourhood programmes. The Christian Democrats want to promote the building of neighbourhood communities.
By voting Christian democrats, you will ensure that those needs that matter to you most are addressed with care. If there has been anytime to influence decisions that concerns your life and your children's future, then it is now. Be active, get involved, influence people, use your vote, take part in politics and integrate yourself in Finland.