The opposition Centre Party has selected MP Juha Sipilä as its new chair at its conference in the northern city of Rovaniemi. In the final round of voting, Sipilä bested Tuomo Puumala by a vote of 1251-872. Two other candidates were eliminated in the first round on Saturday afternoon.
Sipilä, a relative newcomer to politics, becomes the once-dominant party's fifth chair since the turn of the millennium.
His immediate predecessor, Mari Kiviniemi, had been unable to halt a slide in the party's support, while the two previous ones, Matti Vanhanen and Anneli Jäätteenmäki, resigned in the shadow of scandals.
Sipilä, who was born near Kaustinen in Ostrobothnia, has five adult children and four grandchildren. He is a member of Word of Peace (Rauhan Sana), a conservative Lutheran Laestadian group.
He holds an engineering degree from the University of Oulu as well as a pilot's license. He has served as CEO at three tech companies: Solitra, Fortel and Elektrobit. He was elected to Parliament last year.
His first major challenge will be next autumn's municipal elections.
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