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"We cannot be dented": Orpo unanimously re-elected as NCP leader

Petteri Orpo, now the second-most powerful figure in the Finnish government, has his sights set on the top job next year.

Kokoomuksen entinen puheenjohtaja, Euroopan komission varapuheenjohtaja Jyrki Katainen (kesk.) ja vaimo Mervi Katainen sekä kokoomuksen nykyinen puheenjohtaja, valtiovarainministeri Petteri Orpo (oik.) kokoomuksen puoluekokouksessa Turussa lauantaina 9. kesäkuuta 2018.
European Commissioner and former NCP chair Jyrki Katainen and his wife Mervi Katainen with Petteri Orpo (right) at Turku's Logomo centre on 9 June. Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

Finance Minister Petteri Orpo has been re-elected for a second term as chair of the conservative National Coalition Party (NCP). Running unopposed, Orpo earned a unanimous vote of confidence at the party’s summer congress in Turku on Saturday.

“We can withstand differences of opinion. We cannot be dented. We always do things together,” Orpo told the gathered delegates.

Orpo’s speech alluded to differing views within the party on the planned overhaul of regional government, health and social services known as sote. Some members of the NCP’s parliamentary group oppose the sweeping reforms, as do capital-region municipal leaders, spearheaded by Helsinki mayor and former government minister Jan Vapaavuori. Orpo is expected to discuss the long-delayed reform package in an address later on Saturday.

Premiership as target

Orpo said his goal is for the party to lead the next government, following elections next spring – with himself as prime minister. That will be a challenge as an Yle public opinion poll released on Thursday shows the NCP behind the most popular party, the opposition Social Democrats – and losing support in the past month. Orpo has led the party since replacing former prime minister Alexander Stubb as NCP leader two years ago.

On Sunday party members will select three deputy chairs. Candidates include government ministers Sanni Grahn-Laasonen, Antti Häkkänen and Mari-Leena Talvitie.

The other main government party, Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s Centre, is also holding its summer conference this weekend. He too is expected to be re-elected as leader.

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