Foreigners are a sizeable but under-served constituency in the upcoming municipal elections, with more than 130,000 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 Finns Party candidate Erlin Yang:
The Finns party fosters benefits and safety of all people, including foreign immigrants living in Finland. The Finns Party ensures the fulfilment of basic needs and values that are important to everyone living in Finland. There is misunderstanding, however, that the Finns party is against immigration and immigrants. This is totally wrong.
The Finns party does encourage and support immigrants who come to work and study in Finland, however, the Finns party is against those immigrants who come to Finland for unfair and improper reasons like aiming to obtain Finnish social welfare or taking advantage of Finnish social welfare systems. Further, the Finns party is against migration and refugee-related immigration that involves human trafficking, simply because it is illegal and it endangers the wellbeing of Finland.
The Finns Party supports the wellbeing of immigrants, and encourages strongly the integration of immigrants into Finnish society: "when in Rome, do as the Romans do". For a foreign immigrant, the Finns party sees the best way to get integrated into Finnish society is via education and employment. Therefore, the Finns Party encourages immigrants’ further education in either Finnish language or professional skills. In addition to direct employment, entrepreneurship is one issue that the Finns party significantly encourages and promotes.
This is very important and beneficial to both the Finnish community and foreign immigrants to Finland. Immigrants have advantages in certain fields to start business due to international backgrounds and networks. They can develop economic and business relationships between Finland and their original countries to help Finnish economic growth. Furthermore, the Finns party puts lots of efforts into caring for children such as the quality of elementary education, and elder people.
I highly appreciate the above-mentioned basic concepts and policies of the Finns Party. I consider myself a good example to have a good life in Finland as a Chinese immigrant. I had been studying and working at the University of Helsinki and Aalto University, and I also started my own business as an entrepreneur. Finland has offered me a very supportive and free business environment, and I was able to be self-employed. In Finland, I could develop my career, have a home, get married and have children, etc.