Finland’s government is making a last-ditch effort to put an end to a racism scandal that’s threatened its future from the day it was sworn in 10 weeks ago.
(Bloomberg) — Finland’s government is making a last-ditch effort to put an end to a racism scandal that’s threatened its future from the day it was sworn in 10 weeks ago.
The government of Prime Minister Petteri Orpo is seeking to mend internal rifts caused by revelations around racist remarks by the far-right Finns Party that coalition partners — most importantly junior partner Swedish People’s Party — found difficult to stomach. In that vein, the cabinet has drafted a communique on measures to promote equality and non-discrimination, presented at a news conference in Helsinki on Thursday.
“Racism continues to be prevalent in the Finnish society,” Orpo told reporters. “The government will take determined measures to end discrimination. There should be no room for racism in society.”
“Each minister in the cabinet rejects racism,” Orpo said.
The communique is an attempt to forge unity among the four parties that make up the pro-business cabinet and clean up its tarnished image. The scandal, mostly swirling around past remarks by Finns Party ministers, has already led to the June resignation of Vilhelm Junnila as economy minister over his alleged association with white extremists.
In July, the opposition sought to interrupt the parliament’s summer recess to bring a vote of confidence against the government, only to be rebuffed by Speaker Jussi Halla-aho, a former leader of the Finns Party.
Read More: Finnish Racism Scandal Sparks Opposition Bid to Oust Cabinet
The plan includes measures such as promoting the employment of immigrant women, improving the participation of immigrant children in early childhood education, preventing hate crimes against various religious groups and criminalizing holocaust denial. It also sets out a common definition for racism.
The Government’s Definition of Racism
“Racism means defining individuals or groups of people as being inferior based on ethnic origin, skin color, nationality, culture, native language or religion. Racism can manifest in society as discriminatory norms and practices, for example, at work. Racism can manifest between individuals and groups as discriminatory behavior. Prejudice between individuals and groups and fear of the unfamiliar can serve as a breeding ground for racism. Racism creates inequality and not only damages its targets, but all of society.”
The parliament is slated to discuss the government’s plan on Tuesday with a confidence vote likely to be held Sept. 8. It’s not clear whether all ruling parties’ lawmakers will back the cabinet in the vote.
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