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Väyrynen to seek Centre Party leadership, threatens to quit if not elected

Paavo Väyrynen says he will receive support from Centre Party members who are disappointed with the party's current EU and regional policies.

Paavo Väyrynen
Paavo Väyrynen Image: Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva

MEP Paavo Väyrynen said on Thursday that he will contest the chairmanship of the Centre Party next summer.

In a press conference in Helsinki on Thursday, Väyrynen announced that he would return to Parliament in June after the Centre Party convention - either as part of his own movement 'The Citizens' Party' or as leader of the Centre Party. Unless elected chairman, he will quit the Centre Party.

Väyrynen believes he will receive a lot of support from Centre Party voters who are dissatisfied with the party’s stance on the European Union and regional policies.

According to Väyrynen, an alliance built around the Centre Party and the ideas of Santeri Alkio – an early 20th century ideologue who spoke highly of regional values and collective responsibility for the less fortunate – would attract Finns Party and Blue Reform voters too.

“We would be Finland’s largest party by far," he said.

In the presidential election, Väyrynen ran as a Citizens’ Party candidate and received 6.2 percent of the vote, placing fourth in the race. He beat Centre Party’s Matti Vanhanen, who was supported by 4.1 percent of voters.

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä previously said Väyrynen cannot belong to two parties simultaneously, but Väyrynen has refused to relinquish his Centre Party membership.

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