Finnish Economic Affairs Minister Vilhelm Junnila announced his resignation on Friday after a resurfaced speech from his early days as a Member of Parliament caused outrage. In the address, he suggested that Finland should support "climate abortions" for African women as a means to save the planet. Vilhelm Junnila Steps Down Amid Multiple Scandals to Protect Finland's Reputation
Junnila, a member of the Finns Party known for its opposition to drastic lifestyle changes to combat climate change, stated in 2019, "It would be justified for Finland to shoulder its responsibility by promoting climate abortions," adding, "Climate abortion would be a small step for a person, but a giant leap for humanity."
Christian Democrat MP Paivi Rasanen accused Junnila of promoting an "eco-fascist" concept, highlighting the extremism of such views. Even without the racist connection, Rasanen emphasized that eco-fascism is an extremist movement.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto expressed embarrassment over the situation, while Anna-Maja Henriksson, leader of the Swedish People's Party, another coalition partner, praised Junnila's "wise decision" to step down.
Junnila clarified that he resigned to protect Finland's reputation and maintained that he still had the trust of his party and parliamentary group, despite mounting accusations. Earlier on Friday, public broadcaster Yle reported that he had not taken any political science courses at university, contrary to his previous claims. Additionally, there seemed to be no factual basis to his assertions on his website and in election materials that he had founded and sold a Polish tech startup before entering politics.
The controversies surrounding Junnila have been accumulating rapidly since he took office last Tuesday. Euronews reported his participation in a 2019 event organized by far-right groups, which a researcher described as a gathering of "neo-Nazis in Finland." These revelations culminated in a vote of confidence on Wednesday, narrowly won by Junnila, with a vote of 95-86. Prime Minister Petteri Orpo warned him that changes in his behavior were necessary to remain in the cabinet.
Junnila publicly apologized for attending the event and for a series of inappropriate Hitler and Nazi jokes, as well as other unearthed comments deemed offensive. Additionally, several Facebook
messages to his parliamentary assistant, including a meme featuring a snowman wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood holding a noose, garnered media attention.
The current Finnish government, elected this year, has been described as the most conservative the country has seen in modern times. Led by a coalition dominated by the right-wing National Coalition Party, which secured the most parliamentary seats, and Junnila's far-right Finns Party, the government has downplayed climate commitments, reduced international aid, imposed immigration restrictions, and cut benefits. This represents a sharp departure from the center-left government led by former Prime Minister Sanna Marin.