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Rydman officially appointed as Finland's new economic minister

Rydman resigned from the NCP last summer and joined the Finns Party at the beginning of this year.

Wille Rydman being appointed the new economics minister, taking the oath of office.
Wille Rydman, as he was appointed minister of economic affairs, taking the oath of office on Thursday. Image: Lauri Karo / Yle
Yle News

Finland has a new Minister of Economic Affairs following the formal resignation of Vilhelm Junnila (Finns), who only served at the post for 10 days before announcing plans to resign, and the appointment of Wille Rydman (Finns) on Thursday.

Rydman was formally appointed to the minsterial post after Junnila stepped down from it.

Junnila resigned after finding himself at the centre of a growing scandal over revelations about his past social media activity linking him to ideals and movements of the extreme right.

His fellow Finns Party MP, Rydman, was formally named economic affairs minister on Thursday, and is expected to serve at the post for the next two years.

The 37-year old politician told Yle on Wednesday that the appointment came as a surprise.

The Finns Party unanimously selected Rydman to replace Junnila, but did not inform Prime Minister Petteri Orpo (NCP) or its other coalition partners before making their choice.

Rydman resigned from the NCP last summer and joined the Finns Party at the beginning of this year.

His NCP departure happened after Helsingin Sanomat alleged that he had harassed young women. The National Bureau of Investigation opened a preliminary probe into the allegations, which found that the suspected offence took place in 2015 and that the alleged victim was not underage at the time.

In December of last year, Finland's National Prosecution Authority said the NBI's probe showed "that there are no probable grounds to support the suspect's guilt."

At the time of Rydman's resignation from the party, Orpo said the MP made the correct decision. After allegations of Rydman's behaviour became public last year, Orpo said he lacked confidence in the MP.

Difficult first two weeks

Speaking to the press on Thursday, Orpo said that the first couple of weeks of his new government have been difficult.

"More difficult than I would have expected in advance, even though I was prepared for challenges," he said.

Orpo noted that as PM, he respects the rights of coalition parties to select their own minister, saying that it is a matter of trust and a prerequisite for successful cooperation.

"This practice has been established and done in Finland for decades and has always been respected," he said.

According to Orpo, it would be unusual if other coalition parties started questioning the ministerial selections made by the Finns Party.

However, as the chair of the National Coalition Party, Orpo said it was clear that Rydman could not have run as a parliamentary candidate with the NCP.

"Many members of the coalition find the situation difficult and uncomfortable. I understand that completely," Orpo said.

The leader of the Finns Party, Riikka Purra, did not inform the party's government partners in advance about Rydman's appointment.

Orpo said that he was informed about the news by text message immediately after the Finns Party made its decision.

The PM was asked whether Rydman's appointment should have happened differently.

"My task is to evaluate the performance of each minister in his position," Orpo explained.

"I think that evaluations about my own — and the government's — actions are based on what we achieve," he said.

According to Orpo, ministers need to be committed to the principles and values ​​of the government programme and act in accordance with them.

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