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Political elder Paavo Väyrynen returns to Centre fold

The 73 year-old said that the Centre Party needs open dialogue after "catastrophic losses" in the 2019 general election.

Paavo Väyrynen TV1:n studiossa presidenttitentti-ohjelmassa 08.01.2018. Presidentinvaalit 2018, presidenttipäivät televisiossa
Evergreen politician Paavo Väyrynen. Image: Derrick Frilund / Yle

Evergreen politician Paavo Väyrynen has said he intends to rejoin the Centre Party, which he left in 2016. Väyrynen said on Monday that he might take up membership as early as next week.

"I said that I was beginning to believe that I might be able to influence the Centre’s ideological and political principles after all," he said in a press release.

"On this basis I have decided to respond to the requests made of me and to rejoin the party. I intend to use all of the options available to me in accordance with the party’s rules to influence its ideological and political principles," he added.

A colourful career

The 73 year-old said that after the party’s "catastrophic losses" in the 2019 general election, the Centre now needs open discussion.

After a colourful five decades in prominent political positions, including as party chair and a number of ministerial posts, Eurosceptic Väyrynen left the party in 2016 to set up his own political party, the Citizens’ Party, with the goal of leading Finland out of the eurozone.

However he in turn quit the Citizens’ Party in 2018 after he was expelled by the group and it took legal action against him over his alleged misuse of bank accounts and legal funds.

He contested the 2018 presidential election as an independent candidate, attracting more votes than Centre candidate and ex-prime minister, Matti Vanhanen.

Väyrynen founded another political group, the Seven Star movement, after leaving the Citizens’ Party, which he later also departed, saying that he was abandoning party politics for good.

No comment from Centre leadership

Party leadership did not wish to comment on Väyrynen’s intention to return to the fold. Party secretary Riikka Pirkkalainen said at a press conference last Thursday that it would not comment on the membership of individuals.

"Anyone can apply for membership in the party. The local chapter to which membership relates handles applications," she said at the time.

Party chair and finance minister Katri Kulmuni echoed the same sentiment. Some political parties are involved in decisions to accept membership applications or to eject members, but the Centre is not one of them.

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