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Lipponen Bids Emotional Farewell to SDP

Paavo Lipponen has stepped down after 12 years as leader of the Social Democrats. He bid an emotional farewell at the SDP party congress in Jyväskylä on Thursday. The party is now set to elect a new leader with its Secretary Eero Heinäluoma a clear favourite.

Lipponen listed the accomplishments of his two terms as prime minister and thanked the labour movement for its support. He said that the current government coalition with the Centre and Swedish People's Party was working well.

On foreign policy, Lipponen warned against abandonment of the proposed EU constitution.

The SDP congress elects a new chair on Friday. Two candidates, Minister of Justice Johannes Koskinen and former Second Minister of Finance Arja Alho withdrew from the race on Thursday, leaving three candidates. Party Secretary Eero Heinäluoma -- seen as Lipponen's anointed successor -- is widely expected to win.

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