ELDR's Finnish member Svenska Folkpartiet (Swedish People's Party, SFP) stayed true to tradition and held their annual conference on the same weekend as ELDR's other Finnish member Keskusta, in the city of Karleby. Although smaller in size, the SFP conference did not lack any of the drama present for Keskusta's equivalent, as leadership elections were also on the cards here, to take over from long-time President and Minister for Defence Stefan Wallin.
Two excellent candidates, MEP Carl Haglund and Minister for Justice Anna-Maja Henriksson had battled it out over several months following Wallin's announcement not to seek re-nomination come June, and with all said and done, Haglund came out on top with 144 votes to 106.
The European Liberal Democrats would like to congratulate both candidates for an excellent campaign and wish (former) MEP Haglund all the best on forthcoming challenges!
MEP Haglund's victory now means he will leave the European Parliament and succeed Stefan Wallin not only as President of government party SFP - but also as Minister for Defence of Finland. He will be replaced by the runner-up on the SFP list for the 2009 European Parliament elections, experienced journalist and politician Nils Torvalds.
During the conference, SFP also elected a new set of Vice Presidents to support President Haglund in his work. In an excellent display of gender equality, all three Vice Presidents are female - two of which continue from the previous Leadership to ensure continuity; Anna-Maja Henriksson and Päivi Storgård, whereas former Secretary General Ulla Achrén became a new addition to succeed Christel Raunio.
In addition to preparing for the autumn's municipal elections, SFP also used the occasion of the conference to re-design the party's logo into a more modern appeal.
European Liberals would like to wish Carl Haglund, who has also been a long time participant at LYMEC and ELDR events, all the best of luck in his upcoming challenges, and look forward to a continued, good cooperation!