Slightly more than half of Finns consider racism to be a significant problem, according to a new poll released to by Uutissuomalainen newspaper group.
The survey found that when people were asked to consider the statement “I think racism is a significant problem in Finland” 51% of those questioned said they either fully agreed or agreed.
On the other hand 43% of people completely or somewhat disagreed with the statement, and 6% said they didn’t have an opinion.
The survey, which was carried out in late June and involved a thousand people, also threw up some differences in opinions with women clearly perceiving racism as a problem more often than men. Only 7% of women completely disagreed that racism is a significant problem in Finland, while about 20% of men completely disagreed.
Young people aged 18 to 29 see racism as a major problem more often than other age groups – but those aged over 70 think racism in Finland is a problem more often than middle-aged people.
The biggest differences in opinion were revealed when political affiliation was taken into consideration with about 80% of supporters of the Greens and Left Alliance saying they thought racism was a significant issue. Meanwhile 75% of people who voted for the Finns Party took the opposite position.
Supporters of the Social Democrats saw racism as a problem more often than Centre Party or National Coalition Party voters.
Structural racism in Finland
The new survey about attitudes towards racism comes just a few weeks after a report commissioned by the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman found that a lifetime of racial discrimination in Finland for people of African descent begins at an early age, with children from immigrant backgrounds already experiencing systemic racism in the education system during pre-school.
Beyond the daily racist discrimination taking place in public spaces, schools and workplaces, the Ombudsman’s report highlighted the fact that racism is also happening in education, employment and public services like healthcare.
“I think one of Finland’s main exports is this illusion of Finnish or Nordic exceptionalism, and even though many things are really really well here as far as equality between men and women, it was the first country where women can vote, I think there’s an illusion that advancing equality is done, and it’s ready” Michaela Moua, Senior Officer at the Office of the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman, said when the report was published.
The report also reveals that the most common experiences of harassment range from seemingly harmless comments and acts – known as micro-aggressions – to violence at the extreme.
Read more about that study into structural racism in Finland at our story here.