Opposition parties move to oust anti-abortion Foreign Minister Soini

Summary:
Yle reports that the Social Democrats, Greens, Left Alliance and Swedish People’s Party are set to propose a motion of no-confidence in Foreign Minister Timo Soini (Blue Reform) when Parliament meets to consider the government’s budget proposal. The exact timing has not been confirmed.

The SDP parliamentary group leader Antti Lindtman has said that if a majority of legislators back the no-confidence motion, Mr Soini must resign. “In a world where women’s rights are increasingly challenged, it’s not right that Finland’s Foreign Minister is at odds with Finland’s official foreign policy,” said Mr Lindtman. He hopes that women in the government parties, National Coalition in particular, will back the vote.

Iltalehti has written an analysis piece about the issue, stating that it currently seems that there will be enough support for Mr Soini from the parties in the government. Mr Soini will need the support of at least 100 MPs, if everyone turns up. The opposition would need 26 MP votes to get the smallest possible majority.

Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Anne-Mari Virolainen criticized Mr Soini’s abortion statement straightforwardly and the chairman of the Coalition Party and Minister of Finance Petteri Orpo supported her comments publicly. The question that arises is how they could support Mr Soini after making these statements, writes Iltalehti.

Member of the board of the Social Democratic Youth Janne-Pekka Niemimäki and the chairwoman of Social Democratic Students in Oulu Miina-Anniina Heiskanen have penned a letter to the editor of Kaleva, criticising Mr Soini’s anti-abortion stance.

The authors argue that Finland’s work in promoting women’s rights has been indispensable, especially in developing countries, but Mr Soini’s statements on abortion distort the foreign policy line. They feel that Mr Soini’s statements are irresponsible.

Niemimäki and Heiskanen note that abortions are still performed in countries where abortion is banned or strictly regulated, but that it takes place in unhygienic conditions and without the required professional skills. According to the authors, Ms Soini does not seem to care about the consequences of illegal abortion operation.

A comment in Kansan Uutiset (KU) notes that Blue Reform has stated that the vote of no confidence reflects on the entire government’s confidence. The author states that Ministers Kai Mykkänen, Anna-Mari Virolainen and Annika Saarikko, have all condemned Mr Soini’s abortion comments.

Mr Soini defended himself in a blog and wrote that his stance on abortion had been known to everyone for a long time. The author of the comment in KU thinks that the Minister cannot publicly declare their own views if these are in conflict with Finland’s official position.

Media:  Iltalehti, Kaleva, Kansan Uutiset, Yle
Date: 11.9.2018
Journalist: Iltalehti: Marko-Oskari Lehtonen
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