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Afp

Finnish FM survives confidence vote after abortion row

By AFP
media After surviving a no confidence vote, Finland's Foreign Minister Timo Soini admitted he had mixed up his official role with his personal feelings Lehtikuva/AFP/File

Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini clung on to his job Friday after winning a no-confidence vote in parliament over his attendance at an anti-abortion vigil during an official visit to Canada.

Members of parliament voted 100 to 60 against a motion to oust Soini.

It was put forward by four opposition parties who claimed that his participation at the anti-abortion rally in May gave the impression the foreign minister was acting in an official capacity.

On Tuesday, Finland's Chancellor of Justice ruled that Soini's attendance at the March for Life candlelit vigil in Ottawa was "problematic".

Soini was in the Canadian city to discuss Arctic affairs with his counterpart.

After the vote, he admitted mixing up his official and personal roles.

"I am a Catholic and believe in the Church's teachings. But I am a politician and Finland's foreign minister and that is the work I do," the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper quoted him as saying.

Soini's coalition partners, the Centre Party and the conservative National Coalition, had pledged their support for the foreign minister.

"This is not an issue of such scale that we want to bring down the whole government," Centre Party parliamentary group leader Antti Kaikkonen said on Thursday.

However, four female lawmakers from the governing National Coalition Party abstained from the vote.

Lenita Toivakka, a former junior minister under Soini in the foreign ministry, wrote in a blog: "I have no guarantees about how he intends to behave as foreign minister in future."

Soini has come under repeated fire this year over anti-abortion comments following decisions on abortion law by Ireland and Argentina.

The populist Finns Party, from whom Soini and 19 other MPs split last year, abstained from voting.

 
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