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Greens leadership race heats up as Kari joins fray

Hot off a municipal election win, the second-largest opposition party will choose a new leader in June, when Ville Niinistö's second term ends.

Emma Kari
Emma Kari celebrates the Green surge in April's municipal election. Image: Marja Väänänen / Yle

A third candidate has joined the race for the leadership of the opposition Greens Party. MP Emma Kari told the daily Helsingin Sanomat that she has decided to seek to replace long-time chair Ville Niinistö when he steps down this summer.

The Greens are to choose a new leader at a party conference in Tampere in mid-June. Currently the second-largest opposition party with 15 seats in the 200-member Parliament, the Greens posted the biggest gains in this month's municipal elections. They were the only major party to significantly gain support, with a rise of nearly four percent.

Kari says she wants to help the party take the next step after this victory. She is a 33-year-old first-term MP, who is in her third term as a Helsinki city councillor.

So far two other candidates have emerged, Greens deputy chair Maria Ohisalo, 32, and another first-term MP Olli-Poika Parviainen, 36.

Two other first-term MPs, Ozan Yanar, 29, and Touko Aalto, 33, say they are considering whether to enter the race.

In December, MP Outi Alanko-Kahiluoto said she would not run because Ville Niinistö was unfairly favouring Kari – a charge he denied.

Niinistö has led the Greens for three two-year terms, the maximum allowed under the party's rules. He ran unopposed in 2015.

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