Over the past weekend (8-10 June) ELDR's Finnish member Suomen Keskusta (Centre Party of Finland) held its Congress in the Arctic city of Rovaniemi, Finland. Under the buzz theme "Yhdessä" (together), the leading opposition party elected a new leadership including President and Vice Presidents and took stock in view of autumn's local elections. In a tough race including four prominent candidates, Juha Sipilä MP got the upper hand and was elected new Party Leader to succeed former Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi MP. The ELDR Party would like to sincerely congratulate President Sipilä and wish him all the best for the upcoming challenges!
When Keskusta gathers for party conferences, they constitute no small operations. Bringing together over 2 000 voting delegates and a good number of international guests and media representatives, including ELDR Vice President Dick Roche, the atmosphere was high in Rovaniemi's Lappi Areena when the conference kicked off on Friday afternoon. In addition to discussing the highly important municipal elections this autumn, the party would also elect an entirely new Leadership including President, Vice Presidents and Secretary General following the announcement earlier this year by former Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi that she would not seek re-nomination come June.
With all said and done, two final candidates would come to stand head-to-head in a final run-off for the Leader's position; up-and-coming young star Tuomo Puumala MP and first term MP and former businessman Juha Sipilä MP. While the former presented quite a colourful campaign up until the very days of the conference, the latter would ultimately prove to be stronger and win the challenge, thereby becoming new Leader, and head Keskusta into the autumn's municipal elections, where they hope to bounce back from the results from the parliamentary elections, as well as outplay the True Finns, who then came from nowhere to gain quite a sizeable share of the electorate.
Mr. Sipilä will also be joined by three Vice Presidents, ensuring both continuity and fresh inspiration. While Ms. Annika Saarikko MP and re-nominated Secretary General Timo Laaninen will represent the former, MEP Riikka Manner and Mr. Juha Rehula MP are completely new additions to the team.
The European Liberal Democrats would like to take this occasion to wish the elected representatives of Keskusta all the best in their important work for the future, as well as thank Mari Kiviniemi for all the good cooperation over the years.