Finnish parliament does not lift Juha Mäenpää’s immunity from prosecution

by , under Enrique Tessieri

THIS STORY WAS UPDATED

The racist in a culture with racism is therefore normal.

Frantz Fanon (1925-61)

Parliament (Eduskunta) voted on Friday not to lift Perussuomalaiset (PS)* MP Juha Mäenpää’s parliamentary immunity, which needed a five-sixths majority to pass. The final vote tally was 121 in favor of lifting parliamentary immunity, and 54 against; 24 MPs were absent from the voting.

Parliament debated the matter on Wednesday.

Prosecutor General Raija Toiviainen was disappoined by the vote.

“Following the public debate [on Mäenpää’s immunity], I could guess that this would be the outcome,” she was quoted as saying in Yle. “But yes, I am disappointed with the outcome. It gives the impression that a minority that voted [in parliament] signals a more acceptable attitude towards racist hate speech.”

One of the most significant aspects of today’s vote was the high number of national Coalition Party MPs who were absent. One third or a total of 13 MPs out of 30 MPs were absent from the voting.

In June last year, Mäenpää had labeled asylum seekers “an invasive species.” In his defense, he said that “invasive species” is not an ethnic group even though the vast majority of refugees to Finland are Muslims.

Mäenpää equates his victory to President Juho Paasikivi (1946-56). He considers his “invasive species” comment to “sturdily pursing Finnish interests.”
Read the full story here.

While Mäenpää said that he’d choose his words more carefully in the future, others fear that the vote sets a worrisome precedent. Like Social Democrat MP Hussein Al-Taee said on Wednesday, hate speech pundits and racist bullies are always testing how far they can draw the line.

The use of demeaning labels was used two days ago in parliament by PS MPs like Mauri Peltokangas, who referred to refugees as “welfare shoppers.”

If Al-Taee is correct, not only is parliament on a slippery slope but I believe the whole of Finland. The rise of an Islamophobic party like the PS in 2011 is the clearest example that we have been on that slope for many years.

Below are the names and party of the MPs who voted against lifting Mäenpää’s parliamentary immunity from prosecution:

37 PS MPs (Juha Mäenpää absent)

  1. Sanna Antikainen
  2. Juho Erola
  3. Ritva Elomaa
  4. Jussi Halla-aho
  1. Petri Huru
  2. Olli Immonen
  3. Vilhelm Junnila
  4. Kaisa Juuso
  5. Arja Juvonen
  6. Toimi Kankaanniemi
  7. Ari Koponen
  8. Jari Koskela
  9. Jouni Kotiaho
  10. Sheikki Laakso
  11. Rami Lehto
  12. Mikko Lundén
  13. Leena Meri
  14. Jani Mäkelä
  15. Jukka Mäkynen
  16. Veijo Niemi
  17. Mika Niikko
  18. Tom Packalén
  19. Mauri Peltokangas
  20. Sakari Puisto
  21. Riikka Purra
  1. Lulu Ranne
  2. Mari Rantanen
  3. Minna Reijonen
  4. Jari Ronkainen
  5. Sami Savio
  6. Jenna Simula
  7. Riikka Slunga-Poutsalo
  8. Ville Tavio
  9. Sebastian Tynkkynen
  10. Veikko Vallin
  11. Ville Vähämäki
  12. Jussi Wihonen

6 Center Party MPs

  1. Hannu Hoskonen
  2. Tuomas Kettunen
  3. pasi Kivisaari
  4. Mikko Käärnä
  1. Juha Pylväs
  2. Mikko Savola

5 Christian Democrat MPs (all of the 5 MPs voted against)

  1. Sari Essayah
  1. Antero Laukkanen
  2. Päivi Räsänen
  3. Sari Tanus
  4. Peter Östman

4 National Coalition Party MPs (one third or 13 MPs of the 38 MPs were absent)

  1. Janne Heikkinen
  2. Wille Rydman
  1. Janne Sankelo
  2. Heikki Vestman

1 Movement now MP

  1. Harry Harkimo

1 MP Ano Turtiainen

  1. Ano Turtiainen

Sources: Helsingin Sanomat and Eduskunta.

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