Finland minister resigns under 10 days

Vilhelm Junnila, the newly appointed economy minister of Finland, has resigned from his position after just 10 days in office following controversy over remarks he made at a far-right event four years ago. Junnila, a member of the nationalist Finns Party, faced accusations of making multiple Nazi references.

The minister issued an apology and managed to survive a no-confidence vote, but on Friday, he announced his resignation to prevent any harm to the government’s reputation and that of Finland as a whole. In a statement, Junnila expressed his decision, saying, “I see that it is impossible for me to continue as a minister in a satisfactory way.”

The controversy arose after it was revealed that in 2019, Junnila addressed a Nationalist Alliance event in Turku, where he made remarks concerning the election number of the local party chairman. The number “88,” used by the chairman and Junnila himself during elections that year, is considered a symbol for the neo-Nazi greeting “Heil Hitler,” as “H” is the eighth letter in the alphabet, making “88” signify “HH.”

Furthermore, in March of the same year, Junnila congratulated another candidate who received the same election number during a Finns campaign event, making light of the controversial reference.

Facing criticism, Junnila acknowledged his mistakes on social media, expressing regret for his actions and emphasising his condemnation of the Holocaust, anti-Semitism, and all related acts.

Despite surviving the no-confidence vote in parliament earlier in the week, Junnila’s position became untenable, resulting in his resignation from the newly formed right-wing coalition government where his party had been sworn in as a junior partner just days prior.

Prime Minister Petteri Orpo, leader of the National Coalition Party, which won the April election, supported Junnila’s resignation, calling it the “right and only possible decision.”

In addition to the Nazi-related controversy, Junnila had also faced criticism for his 2019 suggestion of “climate abortions” in African nations, drawing further scrutiny from the public and media.

Junnila’s resignation marks a significant development in Finland’s political landscape and presents the government with the task of filling the vacant economy minister position.

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