The Finnish National Report on the Politicization of the “Refugee Crisis” in Public Debate

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Pyrhönen , N & Wahlbeck , Ö R 2018 , The Finnish National Report on the Politicization of the “Refugee Crisis” in Public Debate . CEASEVAL Research on the Common European Asylum System , vol. 9 , Technische Universität Chemnitz , Chemnitz . < >

Title: The Finnish National Report on the Politicization of the “Refugee Crisis” in Public Debate
Author: Pyrhönen, Niko; Wahlbeck, Östen Ragnar
Contributor organization: Swedish School of Social Science Subunit
CEREN (The Centre for Research on Ethnic Relations and Nationalism)
Migration and Diaspora Studies Research Group
Publisher: Technische Universität Chemnitz
Date: 2018-11
Language: eng
Number of pages: 30
Belongs to series: CEASEVAL Research on the Common European Asylum System
ISSN: 2627-339X
Abstract: This report addresses the politicization of common European policy for refugee relocation, with particular focus on the question of responsibility for the so-called “refugee crisis”. As Finland faced the tenfold increase in the annual number of asylum seekers in 2015, public debate on the topic was rapidly electrified. The media attention culminated in September, when Finland decided as the only member state to abstain from voting on the issue of relocation. The decision was widely considered to be imposed on the Finnish government by the Eurosceptic, right-wing populist Finns party, whose path to the coalition government was paved with the party’s highly mediatized anti-immigration political rhetoric during the past decade. This report defines politicization as a practice of competitive claims-making in in the public sphere. Politicization is analyzed within two distinct corpora: a mainstream news corpus of 127 articles in Finland’s largest daily newspaper, and a parliamentary debates corpus consisting of 26 addresses by Finnish MPs to the floor during 10 plenary sessions. On the basis of quantitative and qualitative analysis, we conclude that while both arenas exerted strong influence on public opinion and heavily politicized the issue of refugee relocation, there are important differences in how the question of responsibility was framed within the two contexts. The articles published during the first episode of contention (March – November 2015) focus on the strife between Visegrád countries and other member states. The articles underline EU’s shortcomings in mediating the conflicted interests among member states, presenting Finland’s decision to abstain as tacit support to the bloc opposing common relocation mechanisms, and decrying the ensuing impact to Finland’s previously conciliatory reputation within the EU. On the other hand, the parliamentary debates taking place in the turn of the year are largely dominated by Finns party MPs. The debates emphasize Finland’s sovereign responsibility to prevent crime and protect the autochthonous population’s welfare from irregular migration, often framed in terms of “illegal refugees.” While refugees plight is repeatedly presented as the responsibility of the sending countries, the MPs commonly assert that the EU is responsible for letting in “the wave of refugees”.
Subject: 5141 Sociology
media debate
Asylum seekers
public opinion
517 Political science
refugee crisis
Rights: unspecified
Usage restriction: openAccess
Self-archived version: publishedVersion

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