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Opposition parties move to oust anti-abortion Foreign Minister Soini

Four parties in the Finnish parliament are to propose a motion of no-confidence in Foreign Minister Timo Soini over his opposition to abortion rights.

Ulkoministeri Timo Soini puhui medialle Suomen ulkomaanedustustojen suurlähettiläiden vuosittaisessa kokouksessa Helsingissä maanantaina.
Timo Soini speaks at a meeting of Finnish ambassadors in Helsinki in August 2018. Image: Martti Kainulainen / Lehtikuva

Foreign Minister Timo Soini faces a vote of no-confidence in parliament after four opposition parties came together to propose the motion. Their move follows a string of anti-abortion statements Soini has made on his blog and his participation in an anti-abortion demonstration in Canada while on an official visit.

SDP parliamentary group leader Antti Lindtman said that a majority of MPs are opposed to Soini’s actions and statements.

“In a world where women’s rights are increasingly challenged, it’s not right that Finland’s Foreign Minister is at odds with Finland’s official foreign policy,” said Lindtman.

Soini has made anti-abortion comments in relation to a senate vote in Argentina and a referendum in Ireland, as well as attending a so-called ‘march for life’ in Ottawa during an official trip.

Preferred option to get gov't MPs on board

The Social Democrats, Greens, Left Alliance and Swedish People’s Party are expected to propose the motion in a week’s time when Parliament meets to consider the government’s budget proposal, although the exact timing remains unconfirmed.

If a majority of legislators back the no-confidence motion , Lindtman says it means Soini must resign. MPs preferred this option to a general confidence motion against the whole government in an effort to encourage government lawmakers to back the move, as a successful no-confidence vote in the government means the government must resign.

Lindtman says that he hopes women in the government parties, especially from the National Coalition, will back the vote.

Soini's party, Blue Reform, split off from the Finns Party when the latter elected hardliner Jussi Halla-aho as leader in the summer of 2017.

Blue Reform has 18 MPs and five ministerial posts, but is polling at less than two percent. In the latest Yle poll, support for Blue Reform was 1.6 percent, within the poll's +-2.1 percentage point margin of error.

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