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Parliamentary debate on EU stimulus package finally over

A filibuster led by the opposition Finns Party finally ended around 4am on Saturday.

 Kansanedustaja Sebastian Tynkkynen (ps.) eduskunnan täysistunnossa Helsingissä.
Finns Party MP Sebastian Tynkkynen during his record-breaking speech. Image: Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva

The Finnish Parliament's debate on the EU coronavirus recovery package, which lasted more than four days, ended shortly before 4 am Saturday.

Deputy Speaker Tarja Filatov (SDP) gavelled the debate to a close and announced that the next plenary session of Parliament would be on Tuesday, 18 May at 2 pm.

No date for voting on the recovery package has yet been confirmed.

According to a decision by the Constitutional Law Committee, approval of the stimulus package requires two-thirds of the votes in Parliament.

Record 8-hour speech

The last speaker was MP Jenna Simula of the opposition Finns Party, which had been trying to delay a decision on Finnish approval of the package, thereby threatening the entire EU agreement.

Another Finns Party MP, Sebastian Tynkkynen, held a record-breaking speech that lasted well over eight hours.

Tynkkynen began speaking on Friday at 6:06 pm. Shortly after 3:30 am, the floor was handed to Finns Party chair Jussi Halla-aho.

Tynkkynen's speech was interrupted for around two minutes in the evening when Filatov went to change her mask.

"Since you spoke for a long time without a mask, I would like to change my mask myself. There has been a coronavirus case in the legislature," Filatov said.

She also reminded Tynkkynen, who was speaking without a mask at that point, that there is a mask recommendation in the House of Parliament.

On Friday, MP Katri Kulmuni, former leader of the Centre Party, said she had been diagnosed with a Covid-19 infection. She was at least the fifth MP to have contracted the virus since last year.

Previous record during EU debate in 1994

The previous record-long speech in Parliament was by Vesa Laukkanen, who spoke for about 6.5 hours as part of a filibuster to delay a vote on joining the EU in November 1994.

That marathon debate went on for four and a half days—the longest parliamentary debate in Finland's post-war history, and succeeded in delaying the vote until after Sweden made its decision to join the EU.

The two countries joined at the same time as Austria on 1 January 1995.

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