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Jyrki Katainen leaves Brussels, wife seeks political role

The former Finnish prime minster is bowing out of public life while his wife says she she will now run for office in Finland.

Jyrki Katainen
File photo of Jyrki Katainen. Image: Frederic Sierakowski / AOP

EU Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen says he will not seek the commission presidency in conjunction with next year’s European elections.

Katainen had been a top contender to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg as EU Commission president.

”I’m 46 years old and there’s still time for me to do other things in life. I thought I would do something other than politics,” Katainen told Yle.

”The commission presidency would have been a big change—also in terms of family life. Our homebase is Finland,” said Katainen, who has two young daughters.

As Jyrki leaves politics, Mervi enters

Katainen said his wife Mervi’s decision to run on the National Coalition Party ticket in next spring’s general elections affected his will to retire from office, he told reporters.

With Katainen bowing out, the path is clear for European Investment Bank VP Alexander Stubb, another NCP heavyweight and former Finnish PM, to assume a commission portfolio or a top spot in the commission leadership.

There have been several news reports concerning Stubb's possible interest in a senior EU post.

Katainen and Stubb's European People's Party (EPP) is the biggest in the European parliament. Under the European Union’s ‘Spitzenkandidat’ system, the top candidate from the pan-EU party that wins elections to the European Parliament next May should be appointed as president of the commission, the EU’s executive body.

Long political career

Katainen has been involved in politics since the age of 21.

He served as a lawmaker for the centre-right NCP for 15 years and was a finance minister for four of those years.

Katainen was sworn in as Finland’s prime minister in 2011 and stayed in office until 2014, when he left the premiership to take a job with the commission as VP for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness.

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