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Finland Economy Minister Resigns Over Nazi Comments


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Vilhelm Junnila of the anti-immigrant Finns Party was forced to step down after just 10 days in office over alleged ties to extremists and repeated Nazi jokes. He apologized for his remarks and denied ties to extremists.

Finland’s economy minister, Vilhelm Junnila, has resigned his post after sustained allegations of ties to right-wing extremists as well as a series of distasteful Nazi jokes.

Junnila is a member of the anti-immigrant Finns Party, which is part of Finland’s new four-party center-right ruling coalition.

Though he survived a vote of no-confidence called by opposition politicians in Finland’s Parliament on June 28, Junnila announced he was stepping down Friday, saying, “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.”

Junnila had come under fire for, among other things, a public speech that he had given in 2019 related to a far-right memorial in the western Finnish town of Turku. He was also criticized for repeated Nazi jokes.

The populist apparently joked with a fellow Finns Party politician in a campaign speech on March 10, calling his candidate number — 88 — a good omen.

“First of all, congratulations for the excellent candidate number. I know it’s a winning card. Obviously, this ’88’ refers to two H letters which we won’t say more about.” The number is a popular cipher among neo-Nazis who use it as code for the phrase Heil Hitler.

Media reports said Junnila had repeatedly joked about the number in the past. 

Shortest-serving minister in Finland’s history

Junilla has since apologized for the joke, as well as condemning the Holocaust and antisemitism after joining the government.

Following the June 28 no-confidence vote, Prime Minister Petteri Orpo of the National Coalition Party (NCP) said that he had warned Junnila he “can’t act” like that in his role as minister.

On June 16, Orpo, whose center-right NCP won April elections, announced that he had assembled a governing coalition along with the nationalist Finns Party, the Christian Democrats and the Swedish People’s Party of Finland.

The bloc, which holds 108 of parliament’s 200 seats, took power on June 20. Though it seems likely Junnila will quickly be replaced, some observers have raised questions as to the coalition’s viability.

Junnila’s resignation makes him the shortest-serving minister in Finnish politics. That distinction had previously been held by Karl Lennart Oesch, a military general who served as Finland’s interior minister for 12 days in 1932.

Source : DW


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