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Finland’s political leaders condemn Washington mayhem

President Niinistö called the storming of the Capitol building in Washington DC on Wednesday a "democratic nightmare."

Mielenosoittajia kongressin istuntosalissa.
A pro-Trump mob gathered inside the Senate chamber in the US Capitol after storming the building. Image: Win Mcnamee / AFP

Finland’s political leaders have expressed shock and concern at the events in Washington DC on Wednesday which saw supporters of President Donald Trump storm the US Capitol building, temporarily suspending Congress' certification of Joe Biden's presidential win.

Speaking to Yle late on Wednesday, Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö said it was a "very confusing" evening.

"The news became more and more incomprehensible as the evening went on," Niinistö said. "It is very difficult to understand how something like this can happen in an established democracy."

Earlier in the day, as the first news reports began to break from the US capital, the president wrote on Twitter of his reaction to the unfolding events.

"Every moment now brings some new impossibility from Washington: there is an unbelievable democratic nightmare going on," the president wrote.

Since the election in November, President Trump has continually questioned the outcome of the vote which saw his opponent Joe Biden become President-elect.

On Wednesday, the US Congress had been scheduled to confirm Biden’s election victory, but the session was interrupted when an armed mob of Trump supporters stormed the building.

Niinistö added that he hoped the declaration of a 12-hour overnight curfew across Washington DC as well as Trump’s urging of his supporters to return home would help to soothe tensions, but that the events would have a lingering impact on US democracy.

"It's quite a blow for democracy that something like this can happen. Perhaps it is also a lesson for the next administration that respect for democracy must be maintained and perhaps even strengthened," Niinistö said, adding that President-elect Joe Biden faces quite a task as he tries to unite a divided nation.

"It is definitely worth considering the reasons why the Trump phenomenon took off in the last election. I guess the answer is that there are people who were dissatisfied with the way things were. Those sources and causes of dissatisfaction must certainly be addressed now," Niinistö said.

Wednesday’s events will also have a knock-on effect on world politics, the president said, as the US is such a major player on the global stage.

"The American democracy has long been a model for the world. Its integrity and continuation are important for us all," the presidential office’s official twitter account wrote.

PM Marin: Democracy must be defended "firmly and strongly"

The rest of Finland's political leadership were also closely following the events in Washington with concern, and roundly condemned the actions of President Trump's supporters.

"The attack on Capitol Hill in Washington DC is a very serious and worrying matter. It shows how important it is to firmly and strongly defend democracy at all times," Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) tweeted.

Meanwhile, also writing on twitter, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) demanded an immediate end to the violence.

"Finland follows the shocking news from the United States, one of the world's oldest democracies. Election results should always be respected. The violence needs to end immediately," Haavisto said.

His comments were echoed by Finland’s Minister for European Affairs, Tytti Tuppurainen (SDP).

"The intrusion into the US Capitol building is unbelievable and shameful. Democracy must be defended, everywhere, always," Tuppurainen wrote.

Among the other leaders of Finland’s government parties, Centre Party chair Annika Saarikko said that respect for election results is not a matter of opinion, and concerns both winners and losers, while Green Party chair Maria Ohisalo demanded that the election result be respected.

There was also widespread condemnation among Finland's opposition parties, with NCP chair Petteri Orpo calling for the result of a free and fair election to be respected.

Christian Democrat Party chair Sari Essayah condemned the incitement to violence and the intrusion by Trump supporters into the Capitol building, while Finns Party MP Jani Mäkelä said violence should not be a part of the democratic process.

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