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Soini hits back at Antti Rinne over racism claims

Foreign minister slams “spineless” claim that his Finns Party is a haven for racist ideology. Rinne, head of the Social Democrats and former finance minister, made his criticisms in an interview to the newspaper Kaleva.

Ulkoministeri Timo Soini.
Foreign minister and Finns Party leader Timo Soini Image: Yle

The foreign minister and head of the Finns Party, Timo Soini, has slammed the leader of the Social Democrats for claiming that the populist party is a haven for racist views.

Antti Rinne, head of the SDP and a former finance minister, used an interview in the newspaper Kaleva to criticise the Finns Party for saying one thing yet doing another when it comes to racism.

In the report, Rinne condemned the Finns Party for “giving shelter to racist ideology”, and said: “Although they publicly say they don’t accept hate speech, individuals’ comments about immigration prove the opposite. You can’t get around the fact that there seems to be a trend at the moment where they publicly denounce racism yet nonetheless want those votes.”

Racist hatchet

In a statement sent to media on Sunday, Soini denounced Rinne’s comments and accused him of “playing the racist card”.

”What Rinne’s saying, then, is that the 524,000 Finns who voted for the Finns Party at the last election were voting to protect racists. That claim is outrageous and unfounded,” Soini wrote.

Soini insisted that the words of the leader of Finland’s largest opposition party were “unacceptable,” and an insult to hundreds of thousands of Finnish voters. “Throwing the racism-hatchet is nothing new for our country’s red-green liberals,” Soini wrote, “but coming from the mouth of the leader of the largest opposition party and opinion-poll lapdog, it’s something serious,” he continued.

Soini also said that, as foreign minister, he carries responsibility for Finland’s image abroad.

“Creating a false picture of our native land is a spineless thing to do,” he said.

Soini also published a response to Rinne’s comments on his blog.

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