The only matter that Prime Minister Petteri Orpo’s embattled government will gain if it does not go under after its chaotic start on 20 June, is a Pyrrhic victory. In today’s press conference with journalists, Orpo defended Finance Minister Riikka Purra’s apology for her violent and racist comments made in 2008 when she was a 31-year-old researcher at Turku University.
The long-overdue meeting with the media was to clear up Purra’s apology for her past writings where she commonly used the n-word, spoke of Africans as subhuman and even threatened to kill migrants.
One of these was written on 25 September 2008 about young people of migrant origin on a train: “If they gave me a gun, there’d be bodies on a commuter train, you see.”
Apart from the Vilhelm Junnila resignation and scandal, far-right conspiracy theories and views of Perussuomalaiset (PS)* ministers like that of Interior Minister Mari Rantanen, Justice Minister Leena Meri, Foreign Trade and Development Minister Ville Tavio, Foreign Trade Minister Wille Rydman and Jussi Halla-aho, the speaker of the parliament, the government has proved to be a liability to Finland and its international image.
At the press conference, Prime Minister Orpo continued to sound like a broken record assuring us that the government is committed to social equality and against racism. On Monday, it went as far as to put out a joint statement to this effect.
Helsingin Sanomat columnist Jussi Pullinen asks a good question that rips wide open the official façade of the government:
“The [scandalous] chain of events led to a government statement reaffirming its commitment to universal human rights principles and renouncing racism. For a Western [European] government to have to make such an assurance is highly exceptional and raises many questions.”
Incredible, no? The government, a Finnish government, has to put out a statement that it supports human rights and is against all forms of racism and discrimination.
Purra tweets: “Or are the activities of the Perussuomalaiset based on extremism, racism, or incitement of hatred, but on promoting the interests of Finns and Finns themselves. Our immigration policy is legitimate and legal and there is nothing wrong or suspicious about it.”
Purra’s defence of the government’s severe immigration policy is preposterous. Andrew Stroehlein, Human Rights Watch European media director, offers below Purra a stinging rebuke:
As far as I can see, Orpo’s government will end up costing Finland dearly. It has already destroyed our international image and will create a lot of suffering to vulnerable groups like single mothers, the unemployed, and migrants.
If the government does not fall before Christmas or before, Orpo will end up celebrating a Pyrrhic victory.