Poll: Majority of Finns see Finland as racist country
Supporters of True Finns most willing to concede negative attitudes toward minorities
An overwhelming majority of Finns say that Finland is at the very least a fairly racist country.
Two thirds of the nation feel that there is a large or at least a moderate amount of racism in Finland. In spite of this, only two per cent recognise or admit to being very racist, and 12 per cent say that they recognise a moderate amount of racism.
The information emerges in a poll commissioned by Helsingin Sanomat and conducted by TNS Gallup.
Among the minorities attracting the most negative attitudes are Somalis, as well as Muslims in general, but Roma are disliked even more, with 37 per cent saying that they take a fairly negative or very negative attitude toward them.
The result does not come as a surprise to Unto Jääpuro, the deputy chairman of the Finnish Roma Association.
“People try to say that there is no racism in Finland, but it does exist. Racism is an everyday occurrence. It has always existed and will always exist. I would recommend that the Roma stay vigilant.”
One possible explanation for the severe attitude toward the Roma might be that Finland’s own Roma are identified with the Roma beggars who have come to Finland from Romania, says Magdalena Jaakkola, a researcher at the University of Helsinki.
In Jaakkola’s studies, Finnish Roma have taken a place on a par with Somalis on the ethnic hierarchy.
Minority groups getting the most positive attitudes include the Sami, Swedes, British, Estonians, and Chinese. The respondents were given a list of 17 nationalities or minorities, 13 of which brought positive responses from a majority.
A significant proportion of Finns, 35 per cent, agreed partly or completely with the statement that “Islam is a threat to Western values and democracy”.
Meanwhile, 29 per cent agreed completely or partly with the notion that “people belonging to certain races simply are not suited to live in a modern society”.
In the view of one in five, “it needs to be recognised as a fact that some nations are more intelligent than others”.
Eleven per cent agree either completely or partly with the statement that “people whose appearance and culture differ much from those of the Finns are unpredictable and frightening”.
Many of the findings were close to the results of a survey conducted by the Finnish Red Cross in 2007, in which respondents tended to give a much more severe assessment of the attitudes of their fellow citizens than of themselves.
Four years ago 62 per cent of Finns felt that there was a large, or fairly large amount of racism, while only eleven per cent conceded or recognised racist attitudes in themselves.
Dr. Jaakkola, who has studied ethnic attitudes for years, says that it is normal for people to assess themselves more positively than others in studies. This has been noticed in studies on drinking habits, for instance. She says that assessments of how commonplace racism is can be interpreted in a positive manner.
“Debate on racism could have had an influence on this. When someone says that there is racism in Finland, but does not concede the existence of racism in him, or herself, it is an expression of regret, as it were, at the state of things, seeing racism as a sad phenomenon.”
At TNS Gallup, Juhani Pehkonen says that one possible conclusion that can be drawn from the results of the survey could be that Finns feel that racism is more common in their country than it really is.
As only one in seven recognises racism in him, or herself, it is possible that there is less of it in others than people think.
“Another possible interpretation could be that people recognise racist characteristics in other people more easily than in themselves. Looked at this way, it might be seen that racism exists in our country to an alarming degree.”
Broken down according to support for Finland’s various political parties, supporters of the True Finns were shown to have the most negative attitudes toward foreigners, with 27 per cent recognising a large, or fair amount of racist characteristics in themselves. This is twice the rate for the nation as a whole.
Furthermore, 58 per cent of True Finns supporters agreed completely or partially that Islam is a threat to Western values and democracy. Also, 31 per cent agreed completely and 20 per cent agreed partly partly with the notion that “people belonging to certain races simply are not suited to live in a modern society”.
One in five True Finns supporters agreed partly or completely that “people whose appearance and culture differ much from those of the Finns are unpredictable and frightening”, and 36 per cent felt that “it needs to be recognised as a fact that some nations are more intelligent than others”.
Severe attitudes on values issues were also to be found among supporters of the Centre Party, the Social Democrats and the National Coalition Party. For instance, a third of voters of the Centre Party and the SDP, and a quarter of supporters of the National Coalition Party agreed at least partly with the notion that people of some races are not suited to live in a modern society.
Supporters of the Green League and the Left Alliance had the least amount of racist characteristics, and they also subscribed to the least amount of racist attitudes.
More on this subject:
Prime Minister, President, and True Finns politicians react to results of HS poll