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 Green Party MP Ozan Yanar:
In today’s world openness is the main driver of economic growth. It is not a coincidence that hot spots for economic growth are also very hospitable for different kinds of people from all over the world. Where you find growth, you find diversity. The best way of creating a great city is to create a good city for everybody living in it.
We Greens have always supported opening up to the world. It’s the right thing to do. Moreover, it is the best way to create prosperous cities and towns in the modern world.
Building walls blocks growth. Opening doors and diversity lead to wealth.
I’m an immigrant. I moved to Helsinki when I was 14 years old. Since day one Helsinki felt like a safe city for a little kid to travel around with metro or tram. My parents gave me a weekly allowance with which I bought sweets for myself from the shopping mall. I also travelled to football trainings and school alone.
Here I felt independent, here I felt accepted, in this city I was given opportunities. This is how our society should take care of each and every one of us. Now as a member of Finnish parliament I’m working every day to make Finnish society and Helsinki an even better place to live.
We Greens believe in a just society that takes care of its people. This is the core of our values.
Good human rights policies, taking care of people in need, investing in education and cleaner energy policies are in the core of Green politics. We promote equality, quality schooling and opportunities for everybody regardless of their ethnic or religious background, sexual orientations and disabilities.
We believe that every child has an equal right to fulfill his or her potential. We have fought hard against the current Finnish government’s cuts in the education sector, and to keep full daycare as an option for every child in every municipality.
We want our cities, towns and villages to be more vibrant. To have even more concerts, sport events, art happenings, museums and more nice places to sit with friends and family and enjoy life. That’s why it’s important to make businesses invest in the places we live in.
It’s also important to encourage inhabitants to take initiative in their own hands in creating events. Big happenings like restaurant day and sauna day in Helsinki are good examples of these.
We Greens also strive to protect our nature and environment. We promote cleaner energy policies to save the future of the world. These make also smart economic policy.
Quality public transportation, bike lanes, affordable living, daycare, schools, clean energy - these are things that are decided at the municipal level in Finland. These are the things that make great cities.
The choice is yours in this election for each village, town and city. Vote green for better days ahead!