Finland’s tiny Communist Party has elected a new chair, an openly gay artist Juha-Pekka Väisänen.
Väisänen, a 46-year-old member of the Helsinki City Council, previously served as party secretary. He is also chair of the Finnish chapter of PAND, an international artists’ peace group.
He succeeds a fellow Helsinki councillor, Yrjö Hakanen, 60, who announced earlier this year that he would step down.
Hakanen has led the party since 1994, when it re-established itself after filing for bankruptcy in 1992. It was originally established in 1918, just after Finnish independence.
Municipal councillors, but no MPs
The party has not held any seats in Parliament for more than 20 years. It does have representatives on about 10 municipal councils, including Helsinki, Jyväskylä and Tampere. The Left Alliance, which is currently in government, has refused to cooperate with the Communists.
The party claims some 2500 members.
The party congress in Vantaa chose two deputy chairs, Emmi Tuomi of Helsinki and Pauli Schradrin from the town of Nokia, near Tampere.
Väisänen is not Finland’s first openly homosexual party chair, as Pekka Haavisto led the Green League from 1993 to 1995.
Other party chairs re-elected
This weekend the leaders of the Left Alliance and another government party, the Swedish People's Party, were re-elected as expected. Paavo Arhinmäki was returned for another three-year term at the helm of the Left Alliance, while Carl Haglund earned another stint as head of the Swedish People's Party.