Election posters of the Finns Party have always been vandalized, but now they’re being removed by city officials. The advert accused of ”racism” does not mention anybody’s race or ethnic background, but the critics seem to have a pretty good idea of who’s ”skipping the queue” in public housing. And they don’t want anybody to talk about it.
Local elections are held in Finland on Sunday, June 13th. Election posters of the Finns Party on the streets have been vandalized and destroyed extensively, but that’s nothing new. The latest rage is election ads being removed by Helsinki city officials.
Helsinki City Transport authority has decided to remove Finns Party election adverts due to allegations of ”racism”. The ads in question are displayed on bus stops and other locations owned by Helsinki City Transport and managed by JCDecaux.
According to critics, the controversial advert suggests that immigrants receive favorable treatment in the granting of rental housing by the City of Helsinki. The advert shows an apartment building’s residents list with most names replaced by ”Skipped the queue”. The only actual names shown in the picture are Finnish ones. The text below says that bad immigration policy makes it harder for ordinary, working people to find a place to live in Helsinki.
Helsinki City Transport Authority Interfering with Elections
Helsinki City Transport authority tweeted that they have decided to remove the ads because ”there has been a lot of feedback”. Ville Lehmuskoski, CEO of Helsinki City Transport, says that the agreement between JCDecaux and the city prohibits ”advertising that arouse public disapproval”, does not comply with ethical rules or is misleading.
Helsinki City Transport is a municipal authority governed by the city council. By ordering the removal of the election ads of the Finns Party, CEO Ville Lehmuskoski is actually interfering with the democratic election of his future bosses.
The Finns Party have asked the police to investigate whether laws or administrative procedures have been violated in the process. They point out that the paid ads were already approved by JCDecaux and displayed for about a week.
There has been a lot of political pressure on JCDecaux to remove the controversial ads. Suldaan Said Ahmed, a leftist Helsinki city councilman, tweeted his ”grave disappointed in JCDecaux promoting racist and hate mongering messages”.
Suldaan Said Ahmed demanded that ”any company not committed to antiracist action must be excluded” when the next public bidding for the Helsinki City Transport advertising locations is organized in 2022. This is a direct threat against JCDecaux.
Skipping the Queue: Is There a Queue or Not?
The allegedly ”racist” advert does not mention anybody’s race or ethnic background. Nevertheless, the woke people opposing to it seem to have an intuitive idea of who’s skipping the queue.
Those who think the advert is misleading like to point out that there is no actual ”queue” for the rental apartments owned by the City of Helsinki. Each apartment is handed out in an individual process based on the urgency of the applicants for that type of apartments. More applications are coming in all the time, and most of the people sending in their application are urgently in need of an apartment.
Nevertheless, in 2015 the Finnish National Broadcaster Yle was quite happy to the use the word ”queue” in a news article predicting ”a congestion in the queue for public housing” in Helsinki due to the large number of asylum seekers. The article says that any asylum seekers granted a residence permit will automatically be ”at the top of queue”, because they are considered homeless.
Do the Rules Favor Immigrants?
All the debate about ”queue or no queue” is just semantics, however. An article by Iltalehti looks at the actual rules and criteria applied in public housing.
You don’t need to be a resident of Helsinki or even a citizen of Finland to rent an apartment from the City of Helsinki. All you need is a residence permit that is valid for at least one year.
Applicants considered homeless receive top priority. Low income and a large family are also beneficial factors when applying for public housing. And many immigrants meet these criteria with flying colors. Up to 60 per cent of ”homeless” families applying for publing housing are immigrant families currently living, for example, in a reception center or with friends.
So, in practice, the rules seem to be ”rigged” in favor of immigrants. And there are more and more low-income immigrants with large families coming in all the time, and most of them will want to live in the Helsinki area. This means that an ordinary, working Finn will have a hard time trying to get an apartment from the City of Helsinki. This is the problem the other parties don’t want the Finns Party to advertise.