Those that have been following Finnish news will have heard of the recent headlines involving Finland’s foreign minister Ilkka Kanerva (a member of the conservative Kokoomus national coalition party) and his 200 or so text messages to erotic dancer Johanna Tukiainen. Up until now, Kanerva has managed to retain the trust of his party leader finance minister Jyrki Katainen and of Centre-party prime minister Matti Vanhanen (who has said it is an internal matter for Kokoomus). However, it seems he could yet find himself in more stormy water.
The gossip magazine ‘Hymy’ has annouced it will publish some of the text messages that Kanerva sent to Tukiainen in its next edition (which comes out next Wednesday). According to news reports, Tukiainen attempted in a last minute court action to prevent Hymy from publishing the SMS messages. The court has however declined to do so. Hymy claims, according to Hufvudstadsbladet, that the SMS messages should be published so that the truth about their contents can stop the current rumours about what they might contain. Therefore, in Hymy’s opinion, the publication is to the advantage of Kanerva.
Hymy’s editor-in-chief Esko Tulusto said, “As far as I’m aware, the constitution is still in force and the constitution forbids censorship in advance.”. He declined to comment on the contents of the SMS messages other than to say that the magazine would not be taking a position on whether or not Kanerva should resign.
The publication of Kanerva’s SMS messages will again return the spotlight to Finland’s foreign minister for all the wrong reasons. Naturally, politicians must be entitled to have private lives. This is, however, not Kanerva’s first SMS scandal involving women. Kanerva may yet find that his position becomes untenable – if everything he does in his post becomes overshadowed by the gossip surrounding his text messages, he simply may not be able to get on with his job of promoting Finland’s foreign policy. It’s also doubtful Kokoomus would tolerate an even more prolonged period of “bad news” stories surrounding one of their most prominent government ministers. In short, Kanerva is still very much skating on thin ice.