Timo Soini signals the end of his parliamentary career

The Foreign Minister left it until the last day possible to say that he won't be a candidate in April's general election.

File picture of Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini (Blue) on an official visit to Estonia, June 2015 / Credit: Estonian Foreign Ministry

Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini (Blue) has said he won’t run for parliament in April’s elections.

It signals the end of a 16-year stint as a member of Finland’s parliament, as founder and long time leader of the populist True Finns party, and then one of a breakaway group who became the Blue Reform political party.

Soini left it until the last possible day to declare that he wouldn’t be running in the elections. The deadline for candidates is today at 16:00.

Writing in his blog, Soini said “I gave my all, and I got a lot”.

“I think the best days of my life are still ahead. I can’t think it’s gone” he says.

The 56-year old politician from Espoo could still decide to run for the European Parliament elections, he won’t have to make a decision one way or the other on that until the end of April.

In 2009 Soini won a seat at the European Parliament elections, with the highest personal vote in Finland.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) meets Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini (R) in Washington DC, November 2018 / Credit: State Department

Soini’s most recent controversies

Since joining the coalition government as foreign minister in 2015, Soini’s work has been overshadowed by his controversies.

A devout Roman Catholic, he courted controversy by openly opposing abortion rights in Ireland and Argentina, and was rebuked by the Chancellor of Justice last September who said that Soini’s attendance at an anti-abortion rally in Canada, while on official government business, was “problematic”.

He survived a vote of no confidence in parliament over his actions, but was criticised by other ministers for blurring the lines between personal opinion and government business, especially when the Finnish government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly support women’s reproductive and sexual health initiatives around the world.

During his time as foreign minister, Soini suffered from bouts of ill health, most recently in October last year when he was off for a month suffering from a severe skin infection.

While on sick leave, he described actions to curb climate change as causing “unnecessary hysteria” and “climate chaos” – even as 10,000 people rallied in Helsinki to raise awareness of the dangers that climate change poses to the planet.