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Paavo Väyrynen gains backing for another run at the presidency

Veteran centrist politician and MEP Paavo Väyrynen has gained enough signatures from supporters to enter the presidential race as an independent candidate.

Paavo väyrynen
Image: Jarno Kuusinen / AOP

Paavo Väyrynen announced at a press conference on Tuesday that a voters' association set up to back his candidacy has gathered enough signatures for him to be able to file as a candidate for the presidency.

Because Väyrynen has not been nominated by any political party represented in Parliament, he had to meet a requirement of no less than 20,000 signed cards from backers expressing their support. In order for him to run, the cards must be filed with the Ministry of Justice no later than 12 December.

Väyrynen said that in his opinion presidential election debates held so far have not focused on essential issues.

"The debates have been rather dull and for the most part have dealt with equality issues," he remarked.

Väyrynen: Debates not addressing EU military alliance

According to the political doyen, the central issue of the day is the evolution of the European Union into a military alliance, a development he says the current government is advancing.

He also commented on voters’ overwhelming support for incumbent President Sauli Niinistö in recent opinion polls.

"Once Independence Day is over, then after that Niinistö’s everyday life will begin and so too will the celebration of democracy."

Väyrynen was the Centre Party candidate in the last presidential election in 2012, losing out in the first round by placing third behind Sauli Niinistö and Pekka Haavisto. He was also a candidate for president 1988 and 1994.

Väyrynen is a seasoned career politician who was first elected to Parliament in 1970. The 71-year-old and has served as Minister of Education, Labour, Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and International Development.

His most recent ministerial posting was during the Matti Vanhanen administration from 2007 to 2011.

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