Finns Party MP Juha Mäenpää has avoided having his parliamentary immunity lifted and being indicted by prosecutors after a Friday vote failed to secure a ‘super majority’ from parliamentarians.
While 121 Members of Parliament voted to lift the MP’s immunity, and grant the request of Finland’s Prosecutor General to charge Mäenpää over incendiary comments he made in June 2019 about asylum seekers on the floor of the chamber, 54 MPs voted against it.
So despite the large majority, the required five-sixth support was not achieved for the motion to succeed.
The Finns Party group on its own could have blocked the measure, however they were joined by five Christian Democrats, 1 Movement Now MP, six Centre Party MPs and four National Coalition Party MPs.
The debate leading up to Friday’s vote had inflamed tensions among politicians, who argued bitterly about the limits of free speech in Parliament – where MPs are given broad latitude to speak openly – and the responsibilities and limits that come with those rights.
Finns Party MP Sebastian Tynkkynen, who was convicted in October 2019 for writing anti-Islam posts on social media, called National Coalition Party MP Juhana Vartiainen an “enemy of democracy” after Vartiainen said he would vote to withdraw immunity from Mäenpää and proceed with prosecution.
The leader of the Finns Party Jussi Halla-aho, who has been convicted by Finnish courts of race-related crimes, told journalists that bringing a vote to end Mäenpää’s immunity was a “disgrace.”