Sunday 9/27/20
MAIN OPPOSITION PARTY

True Finns fuel immigrant rejection with false subsidy figures

The far-right party says that in the Helsinki region, more than 50% of welfare recipients are foreigners, but the Social Security (Kela) greatly cuts that percentage.

A woman of foreign origin with a child, in the Helsinki Metro. Photo: Foreigner.fi.
A woman of foreign origin with a child, in the Helsinki Metro. Photo: Foreigner.fi.

The True Finns party (or Perussuomalaiset, in Finnish) has once again fueled the rejection of the local population towards the presence of immigrants in Finland.

In times of crisis and recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the party has criticized the social aid approved by the Government to help the poorest. One of the reasons is that, they say, such aid largely flows to immigrants who live on social security.

The origin of this controversy lies in the additional aid of 75 euros per month for the rest of this year that the Minister of Social Affairs and Health Aino-Kaisa Pekonen introduced in June, to mitigate the ravages of the pandemic on the poorest.

Minister Pekonen said this extra benefit was intended to support "the most vulnerable individuals and families" who have incurred additional costs as a result of the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus epidemic. 

However, in a press release on Wednesday, the True Finns said that the government has done nothing for people who have lost their jobs during this crisis and aid has gone to immigrants and single men instead of to the families.

Inaccurate figures

"About 30% of the recipients of social support are immigrants, and in the Helsinki metropolitan area their share is even more than 50%," claims Ville Tavio, Chair of the Perussuomalaiset Parliamentary Group in a statement posted on the party's website. Tavio proposes changing this support and directing it to child benefit, for example.

However, the numbers provided by the right-wing MP have been refuted by the Finnish Social Security Institution (Kela). The newspaper Helsingin Sanomat investigated those figures and wrote that the percentage of foreign citizens who received basic income support between March and July of this year - the hardest months of the pandemic - was 18% in the whole country and 28% in Helsinki and surroundings.

The main opposition party

There is a higher percentage of immigrants who receive social benefits because the unemployment rate among foreigners is also higher than the average of the general population.

According to the latest voter poll published by the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE), support for the True Finns party remains stable at around 18.8%. The far right is the main opposition party in Finland, five tenths ahead of the National Coalition Party (Kokoomus).

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