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Finns Party picks newcomer as parliamentary chair

The opposition Finns Party has picked a new leader for its parliamentary delegation: first-term MP Jari Lindström.

Pirkko Ruohonen-Lerner ja Jari Lindström
Ruohonen-Lerner and Lindström Image: Yle Uutisgrafiikka

There is a new face as the head of opposition Finns Party in Parliament. In a leadership challenge, freshman legislator Jari Lindström defeated Pirkko Ruohonen-Lerner, who has led the delegation since 2011. The vote was 20-13.

That was the year Lindström – a former paperworker from Kouvola – was first elected to Parliament. He has since served as deputy chair of the Finns delegation.

Ruohonen-Lerner, a former reporter and tax official from Porvoo, says the vote does not represent a change in the delegation’s policy line.

“This was a question of personalities,” she told Yle. Lindström said he and his supporters wanted a more agile response to day-to-day politics.

The Finns are the third-largest bloc in the legislature, with 38 seats out of 200 -- just behind the National Coalition and Social Democratic parties.

Soini stays away

Party chair Timo Soini had supported Ruohonen-Lerner in previous votes. This time, though, he did not offer any guidance to his flock before the vote. He did not attend Monday’s session, as he is in Washington to attend the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday. The annual series of events is attended by more than 3500 guests, including invitees from over 100 countries. The keynote speaker is President Barack Obama.

Donner: From Jussi award to opening Parliament

On Monday, the most senior member of Parliament, Jörn Donner, 80, formally opened the legislature's spring session. Donner served as temporary speaker until Eero Heinäluoma was re-elected as Speaker of Parliament. The previous evening author and filmmaker Donner won a lifetime achievement prize at the Finnish 'Jussi' film awards ceremony.

The formal opening ceremonies will be held on Tuesday.

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