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Halla-aho confirmed as new Foreign Affairs Committee chair

Six members of the committee abstained from voting in what could be considered an act of protest.

Jussi Halla-aho was elected as the new candidate for the position at a Finns Party meeting last Thursday. Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

Former Finns Party leader Jussi Halla-aho (Finns) has been elected the new chair of the parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee following a vote on Wednesday.

The voting took place by secret ballot, with Halla-aho receiving the required majority of eleven votes to win the seat.

Six members of the Foreign Affairs Committee abstained from voting, leaving their ballots blank. A blank ballot often represents a protest vote and could indicate dissatisfaction with the candidate.

Parliamentary procedure dictates that the committee elects a chair from among its members using a secret ballot system. The candidate must receive over half the votes to be appointed to the position.

According to Finland's current distribution of posts for political parties, the Finns Party is entitled to the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Former chair Mika Niikko (Finns) resigned from the post last week following backlash to a tweet that appeared to contradict Finland's foreign policy regarding Ukraine. The Finns Party then nominated Halla-aho as his replacement.

Halla-aho served as the leader of the parliament's Administration Committee between 2011–2012, but resigned after the Supreme Court ordered him to pay a fine for anti-Islamic blog posts.

The Foreign Affairs Committee will meet on Wednesday to discuss several issues, including ongoing tensions in Ukraine and the agenda for upcoming meetings with the EU. Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) and Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) are expected to attend the meeting.