Finland’s People’s Party has chosen an economy minister to replace a cabinet member who quit because of far-right ties.

HELSINKI (AP) — A populist party that is part of Finland’s recently formed right-wing coalition government chose a new economy minister Wednesday to replace a cabinet member who resigned last week over ties to far-right circles and Nazi views.

The Finns party said in a statement that 37-year-old Wille Rietmann was „unanimously” elected to the post. Rietman has been a lawmaker in the Finnish legislature Eduskunta since 2015 and a member of the Helsinki City Council since 2012.

He has been involved in national politics since 2007 in the ranks of Finland’s main conservative party, the National Alliance Party, which is a senior partner in the current government led by NCP leader Prime Minister Petteri Orpo.

However, in early January, Rydman joined the nationalist Finns party after being expelled from the NCP last year amid allegations of harassment and inappropriate relationships with young women and teenage girls. The case led to a police investigation and he was later cleared of suspicion of misconduct.

„I’m not ready for something like this. I have mixed feelings,” Rietman told Finnish public broadcaster YLE after being elected on Wednesday. „I accept the challenge with a somewhat heavy heart as my good friend Wilhelm Junnila had to resign from this position. In my opinion, it is inappropriate and stigmatizing. The reports forced him to resign.

Economic Affairs Minister Wilhelm Zunnila said on Friday he was withdrawing in part because of a 2019 speech he gave at a far-right commemoration event in the western city of Turku – which caused an uproar on social media after he took it. Ministerial post.

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Junnila, who survived a no-confidence vote in parliament earlier this month, is said to have made inappropriate references to Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany on some occasions. With just 17 days in office, Junnila is set to become the second shortest-serving cabinet member in Finland’s history.

President Sauli Niinistö will formally appoint Reitman on Thursday.

The Finns Party decided that Rietman would serve two years as economy minister, after which he would hand over the post to the party’s Sakari Busto for another two years.

Orpo’s four-party coalition government, described by political analysts as Finland’s most conservative cabinet since World War II, took office on June 20.

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