Minister of Economic Affairs Wille Rydman (PS) attended a plenary session in the Parliament House in Helsinki on Monday, 24 June 2024. Facing a motion of no confidence brought by three opposition parties over his response as cabinet member to allegations about his past conduct, Rydman received the confidence of his fellow lawmakers by a vote of 92 to 76. (Mikko Stig – Lehtikuva)

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MINISTER of Economic Affairs Wille Rydman (PS) on Monday won the confidence of his fellow lawmakers by a vote of 92 for and 76 against.

Rydman was supported by all but two members of the four ruling parties: the National Coalition, Finns Party, Swedish People’s Party and Christian Democrats. Eva Biaudet (SFP) and Pihla Keto-Huovinen (NCP) cast a blank vote in a vote that senior cabinet members had framed as one on the future of the ruling coalition.

Prime Minister Petteri Orpo (NCP), for example, had outlined that the lawmakers would effectively be voting on government policy.

Jani Mäkelä, the chairperson of the Finns Party Parliamentary Group, told Helsingin Sanomat on Monday that the group expects an explanation for the blank votes from both the National Coalition and Swedish People’s Party.

“These groups themselves will consider what actions [the votes] will lead to. And we’ll think what to do based on that,” he said after the vote.

The motion of no confidence was unveiled last week by the Green League, Left Alliance and Social Democrats. Rydman, the opposition parties argued, has leveraged his position as cabinet member to attack the media and women who made allegations about his conduct in an article published two years ago by Helsingin Sanomat.

Several girls and women accused the lawmaker in the article of utilising his political standing to seek their company. Rydman has denied the accusations and submitted a criminal complaint accusing both the journalists and women of defamation and dissemination of information violating personal privacy.

After analysing the findings of a pre-trial investigation, the prosecutor general ruled earlier this month that there are no grounds for charging the journalists, the women or Rydman.

Rydman yesterday declared that he intends to continue criticising the newspaper, reiterating his assertion that “core elements” of the article were not founded on fact.

“Even this year, in the past couple of weeks, they’ve defended this defamatory article, which isn’t based on fact. That kind of conduct undoubtedly warrants criticism also in future,” he said according to Helsingin Sanomat. “Even more pointed and severe criticism would’ve been warranted, given how serious and erroneous of the claims were.”

The Green League, Left Alliance and Social Democrats argued last week that his response to the article is unbefitting a cabinet minister.

“Rydman has tried to erode trust in the media in a serious way in order to skirt responsibility for his own actions,” Tytti Tuppurainen, the chairperson of the Social Democratic Parliamentary Group, viewed at a joint presser held in the Parliament House.

Atte Harjanne, the chairperson of the Green Parliamentary Group, argued yesterday that the vote of confidence lowers the bar for acceptable conduct by cabinet ministers in a “historic and dangerous” way.

He also expressed his disapproval with how the government framed the interpellation as an issue concerning the entire ruling coalition.

“This was a vote about a single minister that was turned into an issue concerning the entire government by an internal government deal. And I’m sure the Finns Party got to dictate that,” he said to Helsingin Sanomat.

Opposition lawmakers also drew attention to estimates made by Orpo and Minister of European Affairs and Ownership Steering Anders Adlercreutz (SFP). Both Orpo and Adlercreutz have stated that Rydman would not be qualified to serve as a minister for their parties.

The government can’t have “second-class ministers” who have less confidence than their colleagues, underscored Antti Kurvinen, the chairperson of the Centre Parliamentary Group.

“In politics, you either have or don’t have someone’s confidence. There’s no such thing as light confidence,” he was quoted saying during the parliamentary debate preceding the vote of confidence by Helsingin Sanomat.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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