The 101-seat chamber rejected the censure motion with 44 votes in favor and 42 against, with no abstentions. The motion would have required 51 votes to pass.
The group of the opposition Reform Party filed the motion for the censure of the interior minister in connection with remarks made by the minister and chairman of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party (EKRE) about Finland’s new prime minister and the new government of Finland.
“This is already the second time that we have to express no confidence in Interior Minister Mart Helme. It looks like one has run out of people to be insulted in Estonia and has to take on the government and the prime minister of Finland,” chairman of the Reform Party Kaja Kallas said.
“We could offer also a tally of attacks by Mart Helme on members of the Riigikogu, attacks on different groups of people, insults to the left and right, yet we find that with his attack on the government of Finland and Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin alone he has harmed the relations between Estonia and Finland, the reputation of the Estonian state, degraded women and taunted ordinary working people,” Kallas said.
The leader of the largest opposition party said that a person who is lacking self-criticism, but who on the other hand has morbid hatred of everything different from them, primarily women, cannot be a member of the Estonian government.
In his remarks before parliament ahead of a vote on a no confidence motion in the Riigikogu on Tuesday, Estonia’s Interior Minister Mart Helme blamed the scandal that prompted the opposition’s censure motion on the media.
“All these accusations are invented after all, all these accusations have been launched by the media to a big degree. I thank Estonian Public Broadcasting, which in fact does not belong to the propagandists of that broadcasting company but to the Estonian people, but they have not understood this and think that they are working in some kind of a universe of their own. Thank you for hyping up this scandal!” Helme said.
The minister and chairman of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party (EKRE) described the claims made by the authors of the no confidence motion as lies.
“One lie is that I am disparaging ordinary working people,” the minister said. “I believe there are few people in this chamber who have thrown as much dung [out of the cowshed] as I have, who have done as much digging and plowing at planting beds and in the field as I have, who have cut as much hay, heaped up hay, put it before animals as I have.”
“To be accusing me that I don’t know what the life of a simple person is like, that I am disparaging simple work is outright ridiculous. It is invented and propagandistic,” Helme said.
Helme also said that he has “never, ever disparaged or insulted the Finnish people.”
“I cannot agree with the course of the current Finnish government, its ideological platform. And I have the right to say this both as a private person and a member of the government of the Republic of Estonia, which does not mean that we should be picking a row with Finland,” Helme said.
Helme on a radio broadcast on Sunday called into question the competence of Finland’s new Prime Minister Sanna Marin and the new government of Finland. Among other things, the minister and party leader said that a shop assistant girl has become the prime minister in Finland.
Marin has said that she worked as a shop assistant in a supermarket in her younger years.
The Finnish parliament last Tuesday approved Marin, deputy chair of the Finnish Social Democratic Party, in a 99-70 vote, making the 34-year-old Finland’s youngest sitting head of government. Marin was elected prime minister designate following the resignation of Antti Rinne after losing the trust of coalition partners for reasons connected with the postal workers’ strike after just six months in the office. The five parties that make up the government of Finland remain unchanged.
Helme made the comments about the new prime minister and the government of Finland during a broadcast on a private radio station affiliated with EKRE.