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Six candidates enter Finns Party leadership race

Member of Parliament and party vice-chair Riikka Purra is the clear favourite to replace Jussi Halla-aho.

Riikka Purra ja Sakari Puisto.
Riikka Purra (left) and Sakari Puisto are the early frontrunners in the race to succeed Jussi Halla-aho as Finns Party leader. Image: Silja Viitala, Pekka Tynell / Yle

Six members of the Finns Party have put their names forward as candidates to replace Jussi Halla-aho as party chair.

The new leader will be decided at the party's annual congress, due to be held on 13 and 14 August in Seinäjoki, with the full list of candidates comprising:

Riikka Purra, Member of Parliament, First Vice-Chair of the Party

Sakari Puisto, Member of Parliament

Ossi Tiihonen, City Councilor, Lohja

Zara Villikka, Kotka

Kristiina Ilmarinen, Salo

Urpo Vähäranta, Kirkkonummi

An Yle survey published last week found that some 65 percent of Finns Party members polled said they backed MP and vice-chair Purra for the role, with MP Puisto in second place on 14 percent support.

Eight candidates for party secretary

A number of other positions within the party will be decided at the August congress, including the three vice-chair roles as well as party secretary.

Current secretary of the party, Simo Grönroos, is seeking re-election to the role but will face competition from at least eight other candidates.

Among these other candidates, Arto Luukkanen is the best known in national politics as he is chair of the board of the Finns Party think tank Suomen Perusta, which was embroiled in a controversy last summer over the publication of a misogynist, racist book.

Luukkanen is a university lecturer in regional and cultural studies at the University of Helsinki's Faculty of Humanities and he is also a member of the Järvenpää city council.

Party to elect three vice-chairs

The party will also elect three vice-chairs at the congress, of whom at least one must be a woman and at least one must be a man, according to the party's rules.

So far, ten party members have declared their interest in becoming one of the three vice-chairs, with current third vice-chair Juho Eerola still yet to announce his intentions.

MPs Leena Meri and Jari Ronkainen are seeking the role of first vice-chair, while MPs Arja Juvonen and Mauri Peltokangas, among others, are running for second vice-chair.

Party members can still declare their interest in any of the roles at the party congress in August, which the party says currently has 2,100 registered attendees.

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