Finns Party Member of Parliament Ignorant of the Constitutional Right to Demonstrate

There was an energetic antiracist demonstration yesterday in Helsinki. It was triggered by comments that Member of Parliament Olli Immonen had made in Facebook a few days earlier. Many people, including myself, considered these comments by a high-profile Finns Party member disgustingly racist.

Especially for the standards of the Finnish protest culture, the demonstration was mostly deemed a great success. Sure, there were some minor contradictions.

Today another Finns Party Member of Parliament, Jani Mäkelä, decided to question yesterday’s demonstration. So he asked in Twitter how the demonstration was able to get permits from the authorities so fast. Smart. Except that the Finnish constitution happens to be quite clear: no permit is needed for demonstrations.

We have been having an exchange of tweets around this question (some in English, some in Finnish). In case you want to see how a lawmaker thinks it is an issue of “mere semantics”, check it out.

It is obviously sad to find a lawmaker who does not seem to understand the most basic rights in Finnish laws. It is also slightly tragicomical if the lawmaker represents a party whose key agenda is based on asking migrants to adjust to Finnish rules.

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2 thoughts on “Finns Party Member of Parliament Ignorant of the Constitutional Right to Demonstrate

    • Thanks for the question, Olli. If you got this impression, maybe I did not express myself clearly enough (it sure happens). What I believe I said at the end was that if the party has based its agenda on demanding respect for the Finnish rules, one can expect its elected representatives know the basics of those rules. In this case, the most basic legal codification of rules, the constitution.

      There could be another conversation on what adjusting to rules may mean more generally. Constitutions and other norms (including non-legal ones) sometimes change over time. I am in favor of such conceptions of politics where democratic rules are respected and democratizing transformations of rules are possible. Migrants can also play a role in the debates and decisions about these things. So, in very general terms, I do not think they (or anyone else) should always simply adjust.

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