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Ex-Centre elder Paavo Väyrynen sets up yet another party

The political maverick says he needs a new party because the lawsuits brought against him by his previous group could block a run in next year’s election.

Paavo Väyrynen
Paavo Väyrynen Image: Mikko Stig / Lehtikuva

Veteran politician Paavo Väyrynen, who returned to the Finnish Parliament last month after a stint in the European Parliament, says he has begun gathering supporters to establish a new political party. The perennial candidate made the announcement in a blog post on Friday.

Väyrynen says he is setting up a new party due to lawsuits involving the Citizens’ Party, which he founded in 2016. He says that legal action may drag on so that that the fledgling party will be blocked from taking part in next spring’s parliamentary election.

The long-time government minister and frequent presidential candidate, 71, says that he is collecting supporters’ cards for a new party to ensure that there is a true alternative in Finnish politics. He says this is essential to secure the country’s independence and non-alignment and to make sure that immigration is controlled.

The outspoken Väyrynen, who led the governing Centre Party for a decade, is seen as a eurosceptic and populist.

New group's name echoes Italian populists

In late June, Väyrynen said he had set up a new political association to be called the "Seven Star Movement" – echoing Italy’s populist Five Star Movement. He said then that he hoped to participate in the 2019 elections through that new group.

Earlier in June he had predicted that he would win 15-20 seats in the 200-seat legislature representing the Citizens’ Party – despite the fact that it had expelled him and filed lawsuits against him over financial irregularities.

Under Finnish law, anyone who collects pledge cards from 5,000 supporters can establish a political party. There are now nine parties in Parliament, along with two one-man splinter groups.

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