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Left Alliance MP quits municipal role over alcohol use during council meeting

Juho Kautto's resignation follows 'confusing' behaviour during a remotely-held council meeting last week.

Juho Kautto eduskunnassa 24.10.2019
Left Alliance MP Juho Kautto announced his resignation as chair of Äänekoski City Council. Image: Pekka Tynell / YLE

Left Alliance MP Juho Kautto has announced his resignation as chair of Äänekoski City Council on Tuesday, following 'confusing' behaviour at a remotely-held council meeting last week.

Kautto's conduct had led to concern for his health, with tabloid Ilta-Sanomat reporting (external link in Finnish) that the deputy chair had to take over the meeting due to Kautto's erratic behaviour.

"Now that I have had some quiet time over Easter to think about this, I have come to the conclusion that the responsible thing to do is to resign from my position as chair. I will now focus on my role as a Member of Parliament," Kautto said in a press release.

The council meeting had to be adjourned due to Kautto's slurred speech and inability to perform his duties. He had consumed alcohol during the meeting and consequently became intoxicated.

"I am very sorry and I apologise for my actions. My conduct is wrong towards the other council members and the constituents. It is an embarrassing situation, but what is done is done," he said.

Kautto further stated that the incident made him realise that he needs help, and he has already sought assistance through occupational health.

"Some issues have built up while working remotely, and I medicated them with alcohol. Perhaps this unfortunate incident was needed for me to admit the severity of the situation,” Kautto wrote.

Chair of the Äänekoski Left Alliance's council group Matti Virtanen said he found Kautto's decision to resign surprising, but understandable.

"I understand that he wants to take responsibility for his actions. I did not expect this, but this is life. We are faced with a new situation and we need to move on. I hope Juho recovers. He retains the confidence of our group and myself. We want to be supportive," Virtanen said, adding that the party's council group intends to discuss the case in the upcoming days.

Kautto added that the Left Alliance party had given him their full support, but he does not wish to comment further on the matter at this stage.

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