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Centre MP Pekkarinen bows out of parliament after 40-year career

Deputy Speaker of Parliament Mauri Pekkarinen has announced that he will not run for re-election in April 2019.

Mauri Pekkarinen
Mauri Pekkarinen Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

Long-serving Centre Party MP Mauri Pekkarinen announced that he would not stand as a candidate in next year's general election in Finland. Speaking during a press conference on Friday, Pekkarinen said that there was no special reason for his decision but added that he had given the matter considerable thought.

The senior MP told reporters that he was considering running in European Parliament elections due next May, noting that he would first check to see "whether there was any Mauri-shaped gap to fill".

Beyond that he said that he was not prepared to disclose any further plans for the future.

Party stalwart in five administrations

Pekkarinen has served in the Finnish Parliament for half of his life, representing Central Finland. During his decades in office, the 71-year-old has been a minister in five different governments, and earned a reputation as an uncompromising defender of his Jyväskylä-area constituency in particular and funding for Finland's provinces in general.

He was appointed Minister of the Interior in 1991 by his Centre Party colleague, Prime Minister Esko Aho, who Pekkarinen strongly supported to lead the Centre Party after Paavo Väyrynen's years of leadership.

He served as Minister of Trade and Industry from 2003 to 2007 under the short-lived term of Prime Minister Anneli Jäätteenmäki and again under Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, continuing as Minister of Economic Affairs from 2008 to 2011 after ministerial titles were changed.

Dashed dreams of party leadership

Pekkarinen sought to become his party chair in the summer of 2010, but lost to Mari Kiviniemi at the party congress. Two years later, he vocally supported Tuomo Puumala, the opposition candidate to the eventual winner of the next party leadership contest, Juha Sipilä.

After Sipilä became Prime Minister, Pekkarinen was not offered a ministerial position. The party's parliamentary group nevertheless selected him to serve as one of two Deputy Speakers of the Parliament, a job he won over his fellow veteran Center politician, Seppo Kääriäinen.

Mauri Pekkarinen tried one more time to become a minister later in 2016, when his party colleague, Economic Affairs Minister Olli Rehn, left the position for a post leading the Bank of Finland. Pekkarinen lost the cabinet vote to Mika Lintilä, Sipilä's choice for the position.

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