Finland’s economy minister resigns after 10 days over Nazi references

Finland’s new economy minister has resigned after just 10 days in office over remarks he made at a far-right event four years ago, the BBC reports.

Vilhelm Junnila, of the nationalist Finns Party, has been accused of making repeated Nazi references.

He apologised and survived a no-confidence vote, but announced his resignation on Friday.

Mr Junnila said he was stepping down so as not to harm the reputation of both the government and Finland.

“I see that it is impossible for me to continue as a minister in a satisfactory way,” Mr Junnila added in a statement.

His resignation comes after it emerged he addressed a Nationalist Alliance event in the south-western city of Turku in 2019.

At the event, held to commemorate the victims of a stabbing in the city two years earlier, he remarked that the local party chairman’s election number was 88, the same number Mr Junnila himself had in elections the same year.

The number 88 is seen among neo-Nazis as a symbol for the greeting “Heil Hitler”, since H is the eighth letter in the alphabet, making 88 signify “HH”.

Then, in March, Mr Junnila congratulated another candidate who received the same number at a Finns campaign event, according to Finnish public broadcaster Yle.

“First of all, congratulations on an excellent election number. I know it is a winning card. This 88 refers, of course, to the two ‘H’s, but let’s not dwell on that,” the 41-year-old is said to have joked.

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