Haavisto survives vote of confidence, but gets harsh criticism from Centre Party ‘allies’

The vote was the culmination of a year-long investigation into Haavisto's actions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs concerning his handling of the al-Hol refugee situation.

File picture showing exterior of Parliament, Helsinki, September 2020 / Credit: News Now Finland

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) has survived a vote of confidence in parliament on Tuesday 101-68, and keeps his job with the backing of the prime minister – but was harshly criticised by supposed coalition allies the Centre Party.

Haavisto faced the vote after the Constitutional Committee found last week that he acted illegally when he transferred the consular chief at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to another job. It happened after the two men disagreed about how Haavisto was handling the situation with ISIS-linked Finnish nationals, women and children, at the al-Hol refugee camp in Syria, and whether or not to repatriate them to Finland.

While the committee agreed that Haavisto acted illegally, they also decided that the threshold for prosecution had not been met.

File picture of Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, November 2020 / Credit: News Now Finland

The National Coalition Party and the Finns Party had tried to force Haavisto out of a job with their confidence vote in parliament, but ultimately didn’t have the numbers to succeed. Some 30 MPs, including 14 from government parties, were absent from the chamber for the vote.

Immediately after the motion, the Centre Party released an exceptionally strongly-worded statement about Haavisto.

“According to the Constitution Committee, Haavisto has acted illegally, and the parliamentary group in the Centre Party does not approve of illegal activities” the statement says.

“Each party is responsible for its own ministers, and the Greens are themselves responsible for the situation that has arisen both before and after the vote of confidence.”

The Centre Party says they only decided not to vote against Haavisto, and risk collapsing the coalition government, because Finland needs “a viable government in the middle of the coronavirus crisis.”