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Prime Minister Warns of Political Crisis

Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen says Finland faces the threat of a political crisis amid revelations that dozens of Members of Parliament have flouted campaign finance laws. He called on lawmakers to re-check their campaign funding reports and release any information that might be missing by the end of this week.

Speaking to reporters in a corridor of the House of Parliament, Vanhanen said, "Certainly it is a crisis if we have a number of MPs, running into the dozens, who did not do as they were required to by law last spring."

Vanhanen said he has called the chairs of all the parties in Parliament meet with Minister of Justice Tuija Brax on Friday to discuss campaign finance reform.

"It is important that the details of campaign funding be revealed, regardless of which parties they involve, and that we then begin to overhaul the legislation to make it so clear that there are no contradictions," Vanhanen said. The premier reiterated that he had reported his own campaign finances in the manner required by law.

Like several other politicians, Vanhanen received 10,000 euros last year from the Association of Developing Finnish Provinces. It was recently revealed that the ad-hoc group received two-thirds of its funding from two businessmen, shopping mall developer Toivo Sukari and Kyösti Kakkonen, CEO of the Tokmanni discount retail chain.

Businessman's Honorific in Doubt

On Tuesday a fresh controversy emerged surrounding Kakkonen. It was revealed that immediately after last spring's election, a group of MPs who received campaign cash from him nominated him for a prestigious state honorific title.

A panel headed by the premier is to meet next Tuesday to consider the nomination. Now Vanhanen says he is considering whether to recuse himself from the deliberations next Tuesday because of conflict of interest. The PM later indicated that in fact Kakkonen's nomination was already been rejected at an earlier meeting.

Sukari was also in the headlines on Tuesday as a trial began concerning an incident at his holiday home last December. The multi-millionaire and his wife were both stabbed by a drunken neighbour around Christmas.

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