HELSINKI (AP) — The populist, EU-skeptic Finns Party, known for its opposition to bailing out Greece and its political gaffes at home, on Friday joined the Finnish government for the first time.
President Sauli Niinisto appointed the Nordic country’s new center-right Cabinet, a three-party coalition made up of the Finns, the pro-EU conservatives and the Center Party, whose leader Juha Sipila was named Finland’s new prime minister.
The Finns’ maverick leader, Timo Soini, was appointed foreign minister and deputy prime minister, and the justice ministry went to the party’s Jari Lindstrom. Two other party members were handed responsibility for defense, social and health affairs.
The anti-immigration Finns Party was the second biggest in Finland’s April election, ahead of the conservative National Coalition Party, which led the previous government. It has become known for the many controversial statements by its members.
In 2011, European Parliament member Jussi Halla-aho suggested a military junta was needed in the financially-troubled Greece “to rein in the strikers and demonstrators … with tanks.”
On Thursday, Lindstrom said he believed the death penalty should be used in “some circumstances” in Finland for “extremely heavy crimes, such as against small children.” He stressed that it was a personal view and not on his political agenda.
The death penalty has been banned in Finland since 1949 and is abolished in all EU countries.
Soini on Thursday said being in the government “won’t be an easy ride.”