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HomeFinlandFinland Coalition in Chaos as Far-right Minister Quits Over ‘Climate Abortion’ Remark

Finland Coalition in Chaos as Far-right Minister Quits Over ‘Climate Abortion’ Remark

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Vilhelm Junnila, already criticised for Nazi ‘joke’, found to have called for abortions in Africa to combat climate crisis

The new Finnish coalition government has been plunged into crisis, as a key minister was forced to resign after it emerged he had called for Finland to support abortions in Africa to combat the climate crisis.

Vilhelm Junnila, of the far-right Finns party, resigned after a week of fiercely criticised revelations, including that he made jokes about “Heil Hitler” and had given a speech at an event attended by neo-Nazis.

On Thursday evening, a junior member of the coalition highlighted a parliamentary question Junnila had posed on the official record in 2019. Junnila, who as the economic affairs minister was one of 19 cabinet members, wrote at the time that “it would be justified for Finland to shoulder its responsibility by promoting climate abortion”, which he claimed would be “a great leap forward for humanity”.

In official parliamentary records, his question states: “In the underdeveloped societies of Africa, the number of children can be huge, and the problem escalates even worse as climate change drives them, due to famine, disease and extreme weather, to seek a better life in areas with an even larger carbon footprint.”

Junnila resigned on Friday, saying in a statement: “For the continuation of the government and the reputation of Finland, I see that it is impossible for me to continue as a minister in a satisfactory way.”

He narrowly survived a vote of no confidence on Wednesday, after footage emerged of him addressing a 2019 event by the Coalition of Nationalists, a far-right umbrella group. In the same year, Junnila joked about the number 88 at a Finns party event, used by the far right as code for the “Heil Hitler” Nazi salute, with 8 referring to “H”, the eighth letter of the alphabet.

“First of all, congratulations on an excellent election number. I know it is a winning card. This 88 refers, of course, to the two ‘H’s, but let’s not dwell on that,” Junnila said, according to an election report by the Finnish state broadcaster Yle.

He later apologised for “mistakes”, tweeting: “I hope it is clear to everyone that I strongly and absolutely condemn the Holocaust, antisemitism and all antisemitic acts.”

Critics noted that as the minister of economic affairs, Junnila was a trade ambassador for Finland, whose biggest trading partner is Germany.

In a development described by one senior conservative MP as “completely exceptional”, seven MPs from the Swedish People’s party, who are part of the coalition, voted against Junnila in the vote of no confidence, and he could have lost the vote if all opposition members had voted.

More than 1,000 protesters gathered outside the parliament on Wednesday evening to criticise the government’s support for Junnila and a government programme many said was regressive and damaging to Finland’s most vulnerable people.

The row is likely to destabilise the fragile coalition government, formed after 11 weeks of negotiations. The prime minister, Petteri Orpo, formed a four-party coalition that included the Finns party, which controls seven of 19 ministries, after the centre-left SDP of the outgoing prime minister, Sanna Marin, finished third in the general election in April.

The government, which plans to slash immigration and spending, has been described by analysts as the most right-wing administration in Finland’s history.

The leader of the opposition Left Alliance party, Li Andersson, told the Guardian that Junnila had no option but to resign. “This has already caused a huge amount of damage to Finland,” she said. “This was also the first test of prime minister Petteri Orpo’s leadership, and he failed it. He should have drawn the conclusions much earlier and made a clear statement that the government won’t accept this. It is very embarrassing that they instead voted in favour of confidence for Junnila just two days ago.”

Anna Moring, the secretary of the Green party, said Junnila’s views were reflected in the government programme, which plans to tighten citizenship rules and immigrants’ access to state benefits.

“These racist attitudes are visible throughout the government,” she said. “The world has had a positive picture of Finland under the previous government as a welcoming country with a positive record on human rights, but this government is now cutting the wings off that image.”

A spokesperson for the prime minister said he would not comment before addressing a European Council meeting in Brussels on Friday.

Source : The Guardian

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