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Junnila resigns over Nazi references

Racist statements, a speech to right-wing extremists and allusions to Hitler: Finnish Economics Minister Junnila has resigned. He was part of the newly formed centre-right coalition.

Ten days after taking office, the new Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo has already lost his first cabinet member. Economics Minister Vilhelm Junnila of the right-wing populist party The Finns announced his resignation in the wake of a scandal involving contacts in the right-wing extremist scene and jokes about Nazi symbols.

“For the continued existence of the government and the reputation of Finland, I consider it impossible to continue my work as a minister in a satisfactory manner,” Junnila said.

Racist comments

It had previously become known that Junnila had given a speech at a right-wing extremist commemoration event in the city of Turku in 2019 and that he had repeatedly made references to Adolf Hitler, as reported by the Finnish media. During the parliamentary elections in the spring, he congratulated another candidate from his party on list 88. He had the same place himself in the 2019 election. Among neo-Nazis, the 88 is the code for “Heil Hitler”. Junnila apologized and said it was a tacky joke.

After that, other racist statements from his past became known. For example, as a member of parliament in 2019, he suggested that Finland should promote “climate abortions” in African countries.

vote of confidence barely survived

The four-party coalition around Orpo’s conservative National Coalition Party and the party The Finns was sworn into office just a week and a half ago.

Junnila narrowly survived a confidence vote in parliament on Wednesday, but the pressure on him and the government remained high. President Sauli Niinistö, who actually refrains from making such comments, described the situation as embarrassing for the government.

It is true that a quick replacement for the vacant post of Economics Minister from the ranks of the Finns party is expected. However, observers wonder how stable the new government in Helsinki is.

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