Minister of Education Anna-Maja Henriksson (SFP) and Prime Minister Petteri Orpo (NCP) talked during a plenary session in parliament in Helsinki on Wednesday, 15 November 2023. Henriksson on Saturday told Helsingin Sanomat that when she okayed the decision to postpone the research theme, she was not aware of the Finns Party’s desire to influence the contents of the research programme. (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)


THE GOVERNMENT of Prime Minister Petteri Orpo (NCP) is set to reject immigration as a research theme proposed by the Strategic Research Council (STN), reveals information obtained by Helsingin Sanomat.

The Finns Party, the newspaper wrote last week, initially expressed its concern that the theme proposed by the council did not sufficiently address the negative effects of immigration. All four ruling parties, however, approved the decision to postpone the theme.

“We wanted that the research questions related to immigration be considered once more,” Niko Ohvo, a ministerial advisor for the Finns Party, said to Helsingin Sanomat.

He argued that the research theme should have placed greater emphasis on the negative multiplier effects of immigration, as well as discuss such topical themes as hybrid warfare and anti-Semitism.

Information obtained by Helsingin Sanomat indicates that the chairpersons of the four ruling parties decided that the programme theme be postponed, possibly until 2025. STN, though, has yet been notified of the postponement.

The decision would mark the first postponement of a research theme in the 10-year history of the council. “This is a historic political intervention in research,” a scientist familiar with the operations of the council characterised to the newspaper.

Established under the Academy of Finland, the council is tasked with funding societally important and impactful research on themes it proposes annually to the government. This autumn, it called for the adoption of two strategic research themes: water as an element of peace, security and well-being, and the interplay between employment, immigration and well-being, with democracy as the cross-cutting priority.

“The favourable development of Finland’s welfare society and economy will require diverse skills and a sufficient number of skilled people,” the council argued in a press release in June.

Early last week, it issued a press release saying the government’s decisions on strategic research themes has been delayed, adding that the delay has prevented it from opening the programme calls at the same time as in previous years.

Minister of Education Anna-Maja Henriksson (SFP) on Saturday told Helsingin Sanomat that the government should reconsider the decision to postpone the research programme on immigration.

Although the postponement was approved at a meeting attended by Henriksson, she explained that the postponement was one of several decisions made at the meeting and was approved without much discussion. She also stated that she was not aware of the Finns Party’s desire to influence the contents of the programme when making the decision on the postponement.

“The freedom of research and science is extremely important, and the SFP is ready to defend it,” she said. “We should review what this is about exactly.”

Aleksi Teivainen – HT