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Veteran politician Väyrynen "convinced" he'll be elected Centre Party chair

On Monday Finnish politico and MEP Paavo Väyrynen - who days ago was ousted from the party he founded, the Citizens' Party - said he is confident that he will chair the Centre Party by this summer.

Paavo Väyrynen
Finnish MEP Paavo Väyrynen at a press conference in Helsinki on Monday. Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

Finnish MEP Paavo Väyrynen said he plans to leave his European MP seat in order to return to Finnish Parliament in the autumn, saying he hopes to be chosen as chair of the Centre Party. He made the comments at a press conference in Helsinki on Monday.

He said that he plans to participate at the Centre Party's meeting in the city of Lahti this spring, saying that he feels he has the right to partake in debate and to comment on various issues.

He said that his return to the Centre would also likely attract more voters to the party.

"I am convinced that I will be elected at the party conference in Sotkamo this summer," Värynen said.

Väyrynen notifies police over accusations

Over this past weekend the party Väyrynen founded, the Citizens' Party, announced that they had expelled him.

Shortly thereafter some party members alleged that Väyrynen had been dismissed for misusing bank accounts and election funds.

At the press conference on Monday, Väyrynen said he has filed a request for investigation against three key members of his former party after his dismissal, claiming defamation of character.

Väyrynen on reform plans

During his meeting with the press, Väyrynen elaborated on his views of government plans to reform the country's social and health care system.

"Many are probably wondering whether I want to get rid of (the reforms)," he said.

"The whole process started on the wrong foot," he said, explaining that the current plan to privatise some services is too far-reaching, and that the reforms would actually increase spending rather than reduce it.

Väyrynen said that the government should acknowledge the shortcomings of the reforms and be prepared to correct them.

Who is Paavo Väyrynen?

The 71 year-old Väyrynen got his start in national politics when he was elected as an MP in 1970 and has served the country in various political capacities ever since. With a career spanning five decades, Väyrynen is the only Finnish politician to have held ministerial office in every decade since the 1970s and the only candidate to have been elected an MP 11 times.

His big rise on Finland's political scene took place at the beginning of the 1980s, around the time he was elected chair of the Centre Party. In the decades since, Väyrynen has been a virtually permanent figure on the Finnish political scene.

Most recently he ran as a candidate in January's presidential election, which ended in the first round following a landslide victory by incumbent President Sauli Niinistö.

Shortly before the election Yle News published a feature article about Väyrynen which details some of his political life history.

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