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Fifth candidate joins race for top Green Party post

After leading his party to unprecedented success in the April municipal elections, Green Party chair Ville Niinistö will step down in June, and the Greens will choose a new face to lead their flock. Jyväskylä's municipal election victor, MP Touko Aalto, has announced that he will join four other contenders in the race.

Touko Aalto
Aalto's recent vote numbers made the Greens the top party in Jyväskylä. Image: Jarno Kuusinen / AOP

MP Touko Aalto will seek the Green Party chair position in June, according to the Jyväskylä-based newspaper Keskisuomalainen. Aalto gained an impressive 2,371 votes in the April 9 municipal elections there, leading the Greens to become the largest party in the central Finland hub.

Aalto was elected to the Jyväskylä city council in 2008 and to the Finnish Parliament in 2015, where he is currently serving as a member of the parliamentary finance committee and the social and health care reform working group.

Aalto told the paper on Saturday that he had reached his decision this week.

"Discussions with various people made me feel as if there was a demand for my ideas to develop the party," he said.

In addition to Aalto's individual success, the Green Party did well in general in the recent local elections, winning 12.4 percent of the vote to become the fourth largest party. Statistics Finland reports that the party's share of the vote increased by 3.9 percentage points, helping them to gain 200 more spots on municipal councils throughout the country.

Party rules prohibit the current Greens Chair Ville Niinistö from seeking another term, and so the up-and-coming party will be electing a new leader at the party congress on June 17.

Aalto is currently one of three deputy chairs of the Greens, and he will be vying with another deputy chair, MP Maria Ohisalo, for the head position. Three other Green MP's, Olli-Poika Parviainen, Krista Mikkonen and Emma Kari, have also thrown their hat into the ring. 

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