Teuvo Hakkarainen of the Finns Party (left) has been found guilty of assault and ethnic agitation; Antti Kaikkonen of the Centre (right) of misuse of a position of trust. (Images: Heikki Saukkomaa, Martti Kainulainen – Lehtikuva)

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EIGHT OF THE NEWLY ELECTED Members of the Finnish Parliament have had run-ins with the law in recent years, according to Helsingin Sanomat.

The newspaper reported this morning that it has looked into the criminal records of newly elected Members of the Parliament in 2012–2019, finding that six of the eight lawmakers with a criminal history were elected from the ticket of the Finns Party.

The time period for the analysis was chosen due to the availability of electronic information on court decisions.

Jukka Mäkynen (PS), who won a seat on Arkadianmäki from Vaasa, was handed a fine after being found guilty of assault for punching a man in the face who approached him in a restaurant to talk about politics.

“I was convicted, and you can have many opinions about that without knowing the background. I don’t want to comment on it in any way. I’m just looking ahead,” he stated to Helsingin Sanomat.

Sebastian Tynkkynen (PS), who was elected to the Parliament from Oulu, was found guilty of ethnic agitation for posting a series of writings disparaging Islam and Muslims on Facebook in mid-2016. Tynkkynen has alleged that the verdict was “political” and indicated he is considering bringing the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Convictions of ethnic agitation are also found in the criminal records of Teuvo Hakkarainen (PS), a soon-to-be third-term Member of Parliament from Central Finland, and Jussi Halla-aho, the chairperson of the Finns Party. Hakkarainen has also been found guilty of assaulting and sexually harassing a fellow Member of the Parliament.

Ano Turtiainen (PS), who won a seat in the Parliament from Southern Finland, has filed an appeal against a fine issued on him for public incitement to an offence. Turtiainen in December 2015 described attempts to burn down reception centres as “elimination missions” that are crucial for “protecting our independence and security”.

He will appear before the Eastern Finland Court of Appeal in Kuopio in May 2019, according to Helsingin Sanomat.

The sixth representative of the populist party with a conviction from the seven-year period is Jussi Wihonen, who has been found guilty of causing a traffic hazard for speeding.

Niko Pyrhönen, a populism researcher at the University of Helsinki, said to Helsingin Sanomat the convictions may also reveal something about the supporters of the Finns Party. “People who feel like [they have been treated unfairly] may think that a candidate with a conviction knows what it’s like to get kicked in the head by the system,” he explained to the newspaper.

Halla-aho and Riikka Slunga-Poutsalo, the party secretary of the Finns Party, did not respond to several requests for comment from Helsingin Sanomat.

The Finns Party is not the only party with lawmakers with criminal convictions. Antti Kaikkonen (Centre) was found guilty of misuse of a position of trust and handed a five-month suspended prison term in a case revolving around campaign contributions made by Youth Foundation, a housing service provider with ties to the Centre Party.

Antti Rinne, the chairperson of the Social Democrats, has been fined for failing to comply with advance notification requirements when ordering work stoppages as the head of Trade Union Pro in 2011.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT