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Väyrynen joins presidential race

Former Foreign Minister and Centre Party honorary chair Paavo Väyrynen has announced that he will stand as a candidate for president in the 2018 elections. The 70-year-old veteran politician and Eurosceptic says he will represent the new Citizen's Party he founded early last year.

Paavo Väyrynen
Paavo Väyrynen was Finland's Foreign Minister Image: Mikko Stig / Lehtikuva

Paavo Väyrynen has announced that he will stand as his Citizen's Party candidate in the 2018 presidential elections. In order to stand as candidate, he has stood down from his fledgling party's chair position, and will be replaced by Sami Kilpeläinen. He will continue to be active as a member of the Citizen Party's party management, however.

Väyrynen served as an MP in the Finnish Parliament from 1970 to 1995 and again from 2007 to 2011. He has also held many ministerial portfolios, including Foreign Minister on and off for 11 years combined He was elected as a Member of the European Parliament from 1995 to 2007, and again in 2014.

Väyrynen has been the Centre Party candidate for Finnish president three times – finishing second in 1988, third in 1994 and third again in 2012. He announced his departure from the Centre Party in 2016 and soon after founded the Citizens' Party.

Väyrynen says an election committee will be formed on December 6, if he receives the required quota of 20,000 "support cards" - written expressions of delegate support - before that date. He has already announced that if he is not elected president, he will instead stand as his party's candidate for prime minister in the next general election.

A crowded field with a likely winner

He joins the Greens' Pekka Haavisto, the Left Alliance's Merja Kyllönen, the Swedish People's Party's Nils Torvalds and the Centre Party's Matti Vanhanen in the running. Incumbent Sauli Niinistö has said he also will run again, and polls suggest the popular president will gain an easy victory. 

The political party with the most support in opinion polls at present, the labour-friendly Social Democrats, have not been able to come up with a willing candidate. It is likely an official representative will be named at a party meeting in August.

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