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HS: MP Vartiainen seeks NCP nomination for Helsinki mayor

The National Coalition Party aims to nominate a replacement candidate next week after Kirsi Piha withdrew from the race.

Kansanedustaja Juhana Vartiainen, Kokoomus.
National Coalition Party MP and member of Helsinki City Council Juhana Vartiainen. Image: Petteri Bülow / Yle

Member of Parliament Juhana Vartiainen has confirmed in an interview with Helsingin Sanomat that he will seek to be the National Coalition Party (NCP) candidate for mayor of Helsinki.

Vartiainen had told Yle on Monday that he is considering the matter carefully, because the decision on whether or not to run as a mayoral candidate would have wider significance for his entire career.

The final decision on the party’s candidate will be made at an extraordinary general meeting of the NCP’s Helsinki district next Monday 8 March, as confirmed to Yle by the district board’s deputy chair Risto Rautava in an interview on Monday.

The party has been scrambling to find a mayoral candidate with the election just over six weeks away after erstwhile candidate Kirsi Piha unexpectedly announced her withdrawal from the race in a blog post on Saturday evening.

Piha, a former MP as well as a former MEP, had been nominated as the NCP candidate in mid-February. She was previously a member of Helsinki City Council for the 2004–2008 term.

Who is Juhana Vartiainen?

Born and raised in Helsinki, Vartiainen studied both in Finland and abroad before beginning a career as an economist.

He was head of VATT Institute for Economic Research for four years up until he was elected to Parliament on the NCP ticket in the 2015 election with 11,436 votes. Vartiainen retained his seat in the 2019 election, but with a reduced tally of 8,206 votes.

As well as being an MP, he is also currently a member of Helsinki city council.

According to a register maintained by the city, Vartiainen has not brought any motions forward for consideration by the city council. He was also one of the most commonly absent members of the council last year, according to an article (external link in Finnish) by Helsinki daily Helsingin Uutiset.

Vartiainen was previously a member of the Social Democratic Party from 1975 until he switched his allegiance to the NCP just before the 2015 election.

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