Finnish minister dodges ousting over 'Nazi 88' congratulations
The member of a Finnish right-wing party congratulated a fellow party member for holding the candidacy number "88", which is known to be a Nazi symbol of two Hs in reference to "Hail Hitler".
Finnish Economic Minister Vilhelm Junnila dodged a no-confidence motion on Wednesday called for by the opposition over accusations that he made Nazi references.
Junnila, who is a member of the right-wing Finns Party, assumed his position last week following the April elections.
The Minister came under heavy fire over claims that he repeatedly made references tied to Nazis, the latest of which was during his election campaign.
According to state broadcaster YLE, Junnila was seen congratulating his fellow party member on his candidacy number 88, which is a known neo-Nazi symbol used instead of "Heil Hitler".
"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," Junnila said in a speech at a campaign event on March 10, the news agency said.
However, the Minister later apologized for his remarks.
"I condemn holocaust, antisemitism and all antisemitic acts completely," he said on his Twitter account last week.
Haluan täydentää aikaisempia lausuntojani: toivottavasti kaikille on selvää, että tuomitsen holokaustin, antisemitismin ja kaikki antisemitistiset teot jyrkästi ja ehdottomasti.— Vilhelm Junnila (@vilhelmjunnila) June 22, 2023
I condemn holocaust, antisemitism and all antisemitic acts completely.
The vote was shot down by parliament members with 95 against and 86 in favor, which included seven members part of his party's coalition.
"The connections to far-right movements are not a single mistake, misunderstanding or bad humour, but rather repeated, systematic and comradely liaison," MP Hanna Holopainen of the Green Party, the sponsor of the motion, said on Tuesday evening.
Defending Junnila, his party's president said on Twitter that the minister has her "full support" and that of the Finns Party parliamentary group.
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Meistä useat huomaavat - ja ovat huomanneet - sen vuorollaan.— Riikka Purra (@ir_rkp) June 27, 2023
Pääoppositiopuolue SDP:n puheenjohtaja, silloinen pääministeri Marin, totesi ennen vaaleja koko puolueemme olevan avoimen rasistinen.
Ministeri Junnilalla on sekä minun että eduskuntaryhmän täysi tuki.
Acknowledging that his remarks were out of line, Riikka Purra stressed that it is not an official reason to oust a minister, "even in the golden age of woke in 2023."
Hänen huumorinsa on ollut huonoa ja sopimatonta, mutta se ei ole virallinen ministerin savustamisperuste, edes woken kulta-aikaan vuonna 2023. Julkisessa ulostulossaan viime viikolla hän pahoitteli virheitään ja ajattelemattomuuttaan ja korosti tuomitsevansa ääriliikkeet… 2/— Riikka Purra (@ir_rkp) June 27, 2023
The country's Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said in a press briefing he had given Junnila "a serious warning."