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Lipponen condemns Finns party statements

SDP Presidential candidate Paavo Lipponen has warned the Finns party not to joke about basic democratic values. In Lipponen’s opinion it is now time to create clear boundaries for the hard right both in politics and in wider society.

Paavo Lipponen
Image: YLE

His comments follow Thursday’s suspension of Finns party MP Jussi Halla-aho from the party’s parliamentary group for two weeks, after he advocated a military junta for Greece in a Facebook posting. Party chair Timo Soini had initially called for a month-long suspension.

Lipponen told a crowd on Sunday that he found it difficult to believe that one of the leading figures in parliament could joke about democracy in that way, and have the matter resolved by a short suspension. He also criticised comments from leading party figures, who continued to say that the problem was bad taste humour even after Halla-aho had been suspended.

“The Finns party’s parliamentary group and the party leadership don’t seem to realise what kind of issues they are joking about,” said the former Prime Minister. “What kind of significance does the minimum punishment have, if the parliamentary group leader still calls dictator comments “humour” even after the “punishment” has been handed down?”

"The Finns should disassociate themselves from extremists"

Lipponen reminded the Finns party that their startling rise in support was down to the workings of democracy. If the party does not clamp down on extremism, it may find co-operation in parliament impossible.

“Involvement in constructive co-operation is also on offer,” said Lipponen.

The former speaker of parliament also warned against diminishing acceptance of minorities and their rights within society.

“We all have a responsibility,” opined Lipponen. “If we just watch from the sidelines, either in public statements or in everyday situations, we are accepting a degenerative development in our country’s morality.”

Responding to Lipponen's comments via his blog, Finns party leader Timo Soini said that he did not accept smears or belittling statements about his party, "even from Paavo Lipponen". He has previously described Halla-aho's punishment as "rough".

Soini draws line in sand over controversial "junta" MP

Halla-aho suspended for two weeks

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