Finnish MPs voted to elect National Coalition Party MP Paula Risikko as Speaker of Parliament on Monday. Risikko won the election by a landslide, capturing a total of 157 votes.
NCP MPs had previously agreed during a meeting on Monday morning to nominate Risikko to the position.
When the time came for lawmakers to vote however, NCP MP Ilkka Kanerva received 16 votes, while Juhana Vartiainen and Anne-Mari Virolainen – both NCP MPs -- each received one vote. Two MPs abstained from voting.
Lawmakers also voted for the breakaway Blue Reform MPs Simon Elo (1) and Maria Lohela (1). Lohela had previously served as Speaker representing the Finns Party.
However when the party splintered following a leadership change last summer and she switched to the Blue Reform, she was forced to step down as the party had no popular mandate. This paved the way for the post to be filled from the ranks of the Parliament’s second-largest group, the NCP.
Centre’s Mauri Pekkarinen remains Deputy Speaker
Following the NCP meeting earlier on Monday, Risikko, a former Health Minister and someone considered an expert on the government’s ambitious health and social services reform programme, said that the Speaker’s post was an assignment she could not turn down.
The new Speaker hails from Seinäjoki in northern Finland and has a doctorate in health sciences. She is 57, has been an MP since 2003 and has been the NCP’s lead negotiator on social and health care reform and also previously served as Deputy Speaker.
Risikko will give up her role as Interior Minister to take on the mantle of Parliamentary Speaker, leaving another empty post to be filled. The National Coalition Party has indicated that it will decide on a new minister on Tuesday.
MPs also voted to retain the Centre Party’s Mauri Pekkarinen as first deputy Speaker. He was reinstalled with 166 votes. Matti Torvinen of the Finns Party splinter Blue Reform garnered three votes, while the Social Democratic Party’s Tuula Haatainen received two votes. Some MPs also abstained from voting in this case.
Lawmakers will next vote to elect a second deputy Speaker. The SDP has nominated Tuula Haatainen to the position.