Speaker denies to resume parliament over Purra´s racist remarks

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Speaker of Parliament Jussi Halla-aho on Saturday rejected the opposition parties’ demand to reconvene the parliament session suspending the ongoing summer recess to discuss the racist remarks made by Finance Minister and Chairperson of the radical rightist Perussuomalaiset (Finns Party) Riikka Purra.

In a statement issued by the parliament, the Speaker, responding to the demand submitted by the opposition parties to him by email on Friday, said that he decided not to resume the session suspending the recess due to lack of urgency and external pressure and to defend Parliament's independence.

“According to my interpretation, the request of the opposition groups is related to comments written by one of the ministers years ago on her blog and on an online discussion board, and to the public debate took place about them (Comments) now. In my view, the urgency and social significance of the issue is not comparable to the reasons behind convening parliament sessions during a recess in the past,” said the Speaker.

He also said that suspension of the parliamentary recess is very rare and it only took place in seven times in the last 60 years.

“Based on the information I received, the Parliament has never been convened during a recess at the initiative of the opposition,” said Halla-aho, also a former Chairperson of Perussuomalaiset, adding that the majority of the Parliament did not sent the request.

The Speaker also said that the opposition parties did not submit their demand to him at the initial stage but raised it in social and traditional media, which he termed that the purpose was to create a conflict of authority with the Speaker.

He also said that the oppositions tried to use public pressure to influence the Speaker´s decision to their desired direction.

"The Speaker cannot bow to external pressure because he represents Parliament and defends its independence," Halla-aho said.

The opposition parties on Friday sent an email to the Speaker demanding resumption of parliament session suspending the ongoing recess to discuss the positions of the ministers and the ability of the government.

The opposition parties also justified the demand as they want to prevent further damage to country´s international reputation.

The opposition parties made the demand following the controversies raised over the racial, violent and anti-immigrant remarks made by the Finance Minister on the Scripta blog hosted by Jussi Halla-aho, also Speaker of the present parliament 15 years ago in guise of a username "riikka".

Earlier on Tuesday, Purra admitted that she made the controversial remarks on the Scripta blog in 2008 and apologised for the remarks.

Purra offered the apology again on Wednesday from a joint press conference with Prime Minister Petteri Orpo against the backdrop of calls for no-confidence motion made by number of lawmakers.

The issue came to light following reports published in several news media and strong criticism in the social media by people from different strata including political leaders.

Earlier on June 30, another Perussuomalaiset leader and Minister of Economic Affairs Vilhelm Junnila decided to resign following the controversy raised over his links to far-right groups.

Another leader and Interior Minister Mari Rantanen faced strong criticism for her social media post related to far-right ideology and immigration.

Speaker of the parliament and former Perussuomalaiset Chairperson Jussi Halla-aho, who hosted the Scripta blog was convicted of inciting hatred against an ethnic group in 2012.

  •  Speaker
  •  Riikka Purra
  •  Opposition
  •  parliament

Source: www.dailyfinland.fi

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