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Two ex-Finns Party MPs cross floor to boost government ranks

Finns Party MP Matti Torvinen announced Friday that he will quit the nationalist party and cross the floor to join the breakaway New Alternative parliamentary group that is part of Juha Sipilä’s government coalition. Another MP who previously left the Finns Party during its post-leadership election upheaval, Veera Ruoho, opted to join the centre-right National Coalition Party led by Finance Minister Petteri Orpo.

Veera Ruoho.
Ex- Finns Party MP Veera Ruoho opted to join the National Coalition Party. Image: Roni Rekomaa / Lehtikuva

Finns Party lawmaker Matti Torvinen announced Friday that he would leave the nationalist party now led by anti-immigration hardliner Jussi Halla-aho. Torvinen, who was elected as the party’s runner-up representative in Lapland, became an MP last week when ex-Finns Party MP Hanna Mäntylä took up a post with the Council of Europe.

Torvinen has elected to join the group of breakaway Finns Party MPs now known as the Blue Reform, but officially still the New Alternative that has become part of Juha Sipilä’s coalition government.

He said that he decided to cross the floor because the leadership of the Finns Party has not renounced previous writings and speech that have attacked human rights.

Matti Torvinen (ps.)
Matti Torvinen Image: Tanja Männistö / Yle

"I have not defected from the Finns Party to anywhere. I have simply left and I will actively work to create a new blue party along with my friends," Torvinen said in a statement released Friday.

The ex-Finns Party MP said that the new party respects human rights as well as the physical and intellectual integrity of the individual.

"Otherwise we will incorporate the traditional patriotic Finnish attitude, our blue and white heritage," he added.

MP Veera Ruoho expected to join government

Meanwhile another former Finns Party MP, Veera Ruoho was also announced a transition to the government benches on Friday.

Ruoho had previously quit the Finns Party earlier in June during the upheaval caused by the election of ultra-nationalist Jussi Halla-aho as party leader. However she did not join the New Alternative faction but remained independent.

Ruoho announced Friday that she had elected to join the National Coalition Party led by Finance Minister Petteri Orpo.

"It was a tough decision. The leap required strength. I have not changed, my goals are the same, the means are different," she said on Friday.

In her professional life, Ruoho was a police officer, something she said made her a natural fit for the NCP.

"As a party the NCP is a credible and influential player that has a broad understanding of the factors affecting national security," she explained.

The ex-Finns Party MP said that the harsh rhetoric and negative feedback that followed the fracturing of the Finns Party parliamentary group was partly responsible for her decision.

"Let’s say that it was enlightening," she remarked.

The addition of Torvinen and Ruoho to the government benches brings Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s parliamentary head count to 107. The government's maximum vote count will only reach 106 however, as the speaker -- the New Alternative's Maria Lohela -- does not vote.

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