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Ohisalo unanimously re-elected as Greens leader, parental leave replacement to be named

The acting party chair will be chosen from among three deputy chairs elected on Saturday. Of these, climate researcher Atte Harjanne gained the most votes.

Maria Ohisalo håller upp en bukett med blommor och ler medan hon tittar åt sidan.
Maria Ohisalo celebrated her re-election as leader of the Greens on Saturday. Image: Lehtikuva / Heikki Saukkomaa
Yle News

Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo has been re-elected for another term as chair of the Greens, as expected. She was unopposed at the party meeting, held remotely on Saturday.

She is to lead the party until 2023, but will begin parental leave within the next few weeks.

One of the three deputy chairs elected later on Saturday will take over as Ohisalo's interim replacement as party chair until next year.

The decision on who from the party will become acting interior minister is still open and will be made at a later date. Green Party rules do not require that the party chair or vice chairs must take up the role of interior minister. The party may also choose to reshuffle its cabinet seats.

Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto and Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Krista Mikkonen are also Greens MPs.

It is still unclear whether the party might choose two replacements for Ohisalo, one to serve as interior minister and another as party leader – a critical role in the run-up to the first-ever regional elections on 23 January.

The deputy chair nominees were MPs Atte Harjanne, Hanna Holopainen, Inka Hopsu andIiris Suomela, as well as deputy MP Mika Flöjt, Helsinki City Councillor Fatim Diarra, Tampere City Councillor Jaakko Mustakallio and Greens campaign manager Markus Drake.

Diarra and Mustakallio are incumbent deputy chairs, along with Riikka Karppinen.

Harjanne wins most votes as deputy chair

On Saturday evening, Harjanne, Suomela and Holopainen were elected as deputy chairs.

Harjanne garnered the most votes, placing him in a strong position to serve as Ohisalo's replacement. He is a 37-year-old MP and Helsinki City Councillor who works as a climate researcher at the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI).

Veli Liikanen will continue as party secretary while Silja Keränen will carry on as leader of the party's parliamentary delegation. Both were also unopposed for their posts.

The party has the fifth-largest group in the legislature with 20 seats. More than 400 party members are taking part in the virtual convention.

Third parental leave during cabinet term

Ohisalo, 36, has been Greens leader, interior minister and an MP since 2019.

In July, Ohisalo announced that she and her husband were expecting their first child in December.

At the time, Finance Minister Annika Saarikko (Cen) congratulated her on Twitter, adding: "I wonder if there are other countries in the world where three government leaders have had babies during the same legislative term?".

Saarikko had a baby in late 2019, followed by another party chair and cabinet minister, Li Andersson (Left), last January. All five government parties are led by women, as are two of the opposition parties.

12.9: Updated with new deputy chairs.

14.9 11.42am: Updated to clarify that the party's decision on who to propose for the role of acting interior minister is still open.

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