Businessman wins Finnish vote, immigrants go to parliament

Businessman wins Finnish vote, immigrants go to parliament

HELSINKI - Reuters
Businessman wins Finnish vote, immigrants go to parliament

The Green Party's Emma Kari (centre L) and Yanar Ozan (centre R) celebrate their success at the party's parliamentary elections reception in Helsinki, April 19, 2015. REUTERS Photo

Two immigrant candidates, Turkish-born Ozan Yanar and Afghani-born Nasima Razymar, have been voted into Finnish parliament, while a millionaire and former telecoms executive, touted as a technocrat capable of rescuing Finland from its economic slump, won the weekend’s parliamentary election.

The winner, opposition Centre Party leader Juha Sipila, will likely need coalition support from a second-place Finns Party critical of any more Greek bailouts. 

Sipila, who beat pro-EU and pro-NATO Prime Minister Alexander Stubb after four years of policy stagnation and a bickering coalition, advocated wage freezes and spending cuts to regain Finland’s competitiveness. 

“Three years ago, we were seen as a sunset movement, but not anymore!” Sipila said in a speech to cheering party members. “Finland is in a very difficult situation. We need exceptional degrees of cooperation so that we can overcome difficulties.” 

The anti-immigration Finns Party’s success echoed a Nordic-wide growth in populist parties, amid unease over policies of traditional parties, especially in regards to immigration. 

Social Democrat Razmyar and Green Yanar became the only immigrant legislators in the new parliament, with the exception of Sweden-born independent Elisabeth Nauclér, who represents the semi-autonomous maritime province of Åland.

Yanar grew up in the U.K. and Cyprus before moving to Finland at the age of 14. He is chair of the Greens’ youth organization and has worked as an economist for the blue-collar Central Organization of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK). With his 4,184 votes, he narrowly made it on the Green League ticket to the capital.

Razmyar’s father was a diplomat, with her family based in Moscow, when the Soviet Union collapsed and they decided to move to Finland. 

With 5,107 votes, she was elected on the Social Democratic Party of Finland (SDP) slate in Helsinki.