Finnish Lawmaker Who Fired Gun Outside Bar Is Expelled From Party

Finnish Lawmaker Who Fired Gun Outside Bar Is Expelled From Party

Finland’s right-wing nationalist Finns Party has surged in recent years, gathered 20 percent of the vote last year and entered a governing coalition as the country’s second-biggest political force.

But since the party came to power, a government minister has had to apologize for racist remarks, another was forced to resign after making Nazi references, and most recently, a lawmaker was expelled from the party after firing a gun outside a bar.

Riikka Purra, the finance minister and party chair, said last week that the party had acted swiftly to address the most recent incident, involving the lawmaker, Timo Vornanen. However, Ms. Purra told the national broadcaster Yle, “We are still, perhaps most of all, the kind of party that people join from outside politics.”

“For better and for worse, our membership may be plagued by such problems,” she said.

The police said that a 54-year-old man — whom Finns Party officials identified as Mr. Vornanen, a member of Parliament with the party — pointed a gun at two people and fired a shot into the ground at about 4 a.m. on April 26 after a bar brawl in downtown Helsinki.

The police did not name Mr. Vornanen, as is customary in Finland while an investigation is taking place, but Mr. Vornanen, 54, acknowledged his involvement in the incident and the fact that he carried a gun. Mr. Vornanen said he would continue serving as a member of Parliament and found an independent parliamentary group.

The chief of investigations for the Helsinki police, Jukka Larkio, told Yle that “quite a lot of alcohol had been consumed” late on a Thursday night and into the early morning hours, when the brawl happened at the bar, near Finland’s Parliament building, which “surely had an effect.”

Mr. Vornanen, from the Finnish city of Joensuu, is a former police officer and part of the parliamentary intelligence oversight committee.

Finland, a country of hunters and gun enthusiasts, has one of the highest rates of firearm possession in Europe, but it has strict rules on how guns can be used and how they must be stored.

In a Facebook post, Mr. Vornanen said that he had been granted a license to carry a handgun because of his previous job as a police officer and for protection, and that his license allowed him to carry the gun in public spaces.

Mr. Vornanen announced his expulsion on Monday in the Finnish news media, and Harri Vuorenpaa, the party secretary, confirmed it in an email to the Times.

The party declined to provide a reason for the expulsion, but in the aftermath of the incident, several party figures condemned the act.

The Interior minister, Mari Rantanen, called Mr. Vornanen’s act “brainless,” and the finance minister, Ms. Purra, said that Mr. Vornanen had lost her confidence. “It would be remarkable if I had confidence in a person who carries a gun intoxicated in a public place and fires it,” she told the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.

Mr. Vornanen did not respond to a request for comment, but he had previously said in another Facebook post that it would be fair for a neutral investigation to be completed “before this kind of public lynching.”

Johanna Vuorelma, a researcher in political science at the University of Helsinki, said that the Finns Party is a protest party that has historically cast itself as in opposition to mainstream politics, with members coming from the margins of the political scene.

So, Ms. Vuorelma said, while party representatives “have been forced to clean up their image” while in government, “you still have these scandals, these cases where the representatives of the party act in ways that you would not expect from a government party.”

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