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Leaked Centre Party emails call for PM to quit moaning to media

Members of the media and other parliamentary groups got their hands on two internal Centre Party email messages Monday, calling for party chair and Prime Minister Juha Sipilä to stop whining to the media.

Juha Sipilä
Prime Minister Juha Sipilä takes in the action at a Centre Party cruise last weekend. Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

The messages, emanating from the leadership of the Centre Party parliamentary group, called for Prime Minister Juha Sipilä to give up his tantrums to the Finnish press.

The secretary of the parliamentary group urged Sipilä to instead focus on politics and to forget his alleged poor image and attempts to combat it.

A similar message came from the party’s communications team as the communications secretary spoke of her health.

"Sipilä should now stop whining and talking about a leadership change and focus on politics," wrote secretary general Seija Turtiainen in a message that inadvertently reached other parliamentary groups.

Turtianen’s note was a response to communications secretary Pirkko Määttälä, encouraging her to overcome mobility issues. In the exchange, she responded briefly to comments made by Määttälä about the PM’s run-in with an Iltalehti reporter during a party cruise on Sunday.

Double slip by Centre Party members

Other parliamentary groups first got wind of the internal Centre Party discussion when Määttälä’s email was erroneously sent to other email addresses besides the Centre. The same occurred with Turtiainen’s response.

Määttälä said that Sipilä should not continue down the path he had chosen of trying to influence media reporting. She noted that the media’s work rankled with the PM.

"Whatever the situation the media’s view is and always be that the fault is Sipilä’s. You can complain about it, not explain it," Määttälä wrote in the message that Yle saw.

As Prime Minister, Sipilä has clashed with the media more than once. He has taken a dim view of Yle’s reporting on his role in a decision to grant millions in additional funding to the cash-strapped mining operation Terrafame, which later handed a lucrative contract to a firm owned by his relatives.

Most recently, on Sunday, he once more tore into the media, calling journalism "the world’s most sensitive profession".

Media surveys showing Sipilä’s Centre Party slipping in voter popularity polls have also heightened tensions within the party.

Turtiainen’s response calls on the party to put greater effort into communications. She said that it was good that the party’s presidential election candidate, ex-PM Matti Vanhanen, had opened up about his stuttering. The secretary general said it helped create a sense of compassion.

The leaked emails were first reported by tabloid daily Iltalehti.

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