Parliament starts debate on rare MP prosecution request

MPs will vote on Friday to prosecute one of their own - but the motion needs a five-sixths majority before it will happen.

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File picture of columns at Parliament building in Helsinki / Credit: iStock

Members of Parliament will begin a discussion today on whether MP Juha Mäenpää from the Finns Party can be prosecuted for comments he made in the chamber last June.

Finland’s Prosecutor General has asked the Constitutional Affairs Committee for permission to lift Mäenpää’s parliamentary immunity, after he compared asylum seekers to an invasive species, and last week the committee voted 12-5 to allow MPs to vote on the matter.

Three Finns Party MPs and two National Coalition Party MPs voted against the motion at committee stage but the majority carried it.

However, under the constitution any move to lift an MP’s immunity needs the green light from five-sixths of all MPs and so the Finns Party on their own, voting as a block on Friday, could stop it from happening.

They’re going to receive more support with both the National Coalition Party and Centre Party giving their MPs a free vote on the matter – with several politicians already indicating they’ll side with the Finns Party, as the Christian Democrats have also said.

Mäenpää claims the comments he made about asylum seekers were spontaneous, and don’t rise to the level of criminal hate speech.