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Finland’s economy minister steps down after 10 days in office following alleged Nazi references

One of the top officials in Finland’s government was forced to resign over criticism of past remarks involving Nazis.

Reuters reported on Friday that Finland’s economy minister Vilhelm Junnila, a member of the nationalist Finns Party, announced his resignation just 10 days into his term in office after being accused of making repeated references to Nazis.

“For the continuation of the government and the reputation of Finland, I see that it is impossible for me to continue as a minister in a satisfactory way,” Junnila said in a statement.

Junnila survived a no confidence vote against him on June 28 after remarks from the campaign trail where he congratulated a fellow party member on his candidate number, 88, which many believe to be a veiled salute to Adolph Hitler used by Nazi enthusiasts.

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Vilhelm Junnila

Vilhelm Junnila addresses media in the Finnish parliament in Helsinki, Finland on June 28, 2023.  (y Eeva-Maria Brotherus/Lehtikuva/AFP via Getty Images)

“First of all, congratulations for the excellent candidate number. I know it’s a winning card. Obviously, this ’88’ refers to two H letters which we won’t say more about,” Junnila said in an address to a campaign event on March 10, according to YLE.

Junnila later apologized for his choice of words, saying it was a distasteful joke. After taking office, he condemned the Nazi Holocaust and antisemitism “completely” in a social media post.

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Vilhelm Junnila

Vilhelm Junnila (C) attends the Finnish parliament session in Helsinki, Finland on June 28, 2023.  (Eeva-Maria Brotherus/Lehtikuva/AFP via Getty Images)

Since the vote in parliament, more controversial material surfaced dating back to 2019 including another situation where he reportedly used the “88” term and an incident where he is said to have promoted “climate abortions” in African countries.

Military personnel raise the flag of Finland

Military personnel raise the flag of Finland during a flag raising ceremony on the sidelines of a NATO foreign ministers meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Tuesday, April 4, 2023. Finland joined the NATO military alliance on Tuesday, dealing a major blow to Russia with a historic realignment of the continent triggered by Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert) (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

Prime Minister Petteri Orpo, whose conservative National Coalition party came first in the election, said that Junnila’s resignation was the “right and only possible decision.”

Reuters contributed to this report

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