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Finns Party MP cannot promise end to party's racism scandals

The chair of the party's parliamentary group told Yle on Thursday that the summer's series of racism scandals involving Finns Party ministers were ”distorted”.

Photo shows Finns Party MP Jani Mäkelä appearing on Yle TV1's A-Talk current affairs show on Thursday evening.
Finns Party MP Jani Mäkelä appeared on Yle TV1's A-Talk current affairs show on Thursday evening. Image: Yle
Yle News

Finns Party MP Jani Mäkelä told Yle's A-Talk current affairs programme on Thursday that he cannot say for certain his party will not become embroiled in any more racism scandals in the future.

Despite being pushed for an answer several times, Mäkelä declined to answer directly if the party had moved on from the summer of racism and far-right controversies. Instead, he repeated the following line.

"The government programme will be implemented and the measures agreed in this statement will be taken," he said.

Mäkelä's appearance on A-Talk came just hours after the government unveiled its highly-anticipated anti-racism statement, setting out the concrete steps it intends to take towards tackling racism and discrimination in Finnish society.

The initiative was launched following the series of scandals that engulfed the new administration during its first few weeks in office, mostly involving Finns Party ministers.

Mäkelä told A-Talk on Thursday evening, however, that in his view the controversies were "distorted".

"For example, when a person had been harassed on public transport and then posted something a little nastily online about the situation, they were made out to be the perpetrator," Mäkelä said, an apparent reference to his party leader Riikka Purra's comments on a blog in 2008.

In one comment, Purra wrote about a confrontation on a train with young people from an immigrant background.

"If they gave me a gun, there'd be bodies on a commuter train too, you see," Purra wrote.

The post came just two days after a school shooting in the town of Kauhajoki left 11 people dead.

Opposition parties criticise anti-racism statement

The Left Alliance's deputy leader Veronika Honkasalo also appeared on Thursday evening's episode of A-Talk, and described the government's anti-racism statement as "corny".

She added that she was not convinced by the measures set out in the statement, noting that the government had to draw them up as a result of racist actions by its own ministers.

Green Party MP Saara Hyrkkö also criticised the government's statement, saying the decision to launch the anti-racism initiative in the first place was not born out of a desire to fight racism, but was the result of public pressure.

"It was the least the government could do after the summer. The statement contains good rhetoric, but very little in the way of concrete action," she said.

Both Hyrkkö and Honkasalo said they have no confidence in Finance Minister Purra as well as in her party colleague Wille Rydman, who was also at the centre of a racism storm this summer. A vote of confidence in both ministers is expected to be held in Parliament later this month.

The government's anti-racism statement is also due to be debated in Parliament when MPs return from their summer recess next week.

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