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Yle survey: Riikka Purra frontrunner in Finns Party leadership race

Finns Party officials and representatives seem to favour Riikka Purra in the race to succeed Jussi Halla-aho. 

Perussuomalaisten ensimmäinen varapuheenjohtaja Riikka Purra tiedotustilaisuudessaan Helsingissä 8. heinäkuuta.
Riikka Purra is the frontrunner in the race to succeed Jussi Halla-aho as Finns Party leader. Image: Roni Rekomaa / Lehtikuva

An Yle poll suggests Finns Party MP and vice-chair Riikka Purra has an early lead in the party's upcoming leadership contest.

Some 65 percent of the Finns party movers and shakers who responded to Yle's survey backed Purra for the job.

In second place was first-term MP Sakari Puisto, with the support of some 16 percent of respondents.

Kotka MP Juho Eerola was favoured by just two percent of those who answered, as was Vilhelm Junnila, a first-term lawmaker from the south-west Finland electoral district.

Yle asked 150 Finns Party MPs, party board members and regional leaders, among others influential in the party, on 9 July. By 16 July 92 had answered.

Cool on the Greens

The election itself will take place in Seinäjoki in mid-August. Every party member who has paid their membership fees and turns up to the meeting will have a vote.

Party figures were also asked about preferred coalition partners after the next election, which is due to take place in 2023.

The conservative National Coalition was a strong favourite, with the Green Party the least agreeable collaborator for Finns Party figures.

Purra has been a prominent figure during current leader Jussi Halla-aho's tenure. In June the Council for the Mass Media in Finland (Finnish acronym JSN) rejected her complaint about Yle story that accurately stated she had cited the 'Great Replacement Theory', which Finland's intelligence police has linked to far-right terror threats.

Yle News interviewed Halla-aho in February for the All Points North podcast. You can listen to the show using this embedded player here or via Yle Areena, Spotify, Apple Podcasts or your usual podcast player using the RSS feed.

Article continues after audio.

Audio: Yle News

Last month Halla-aho announced he was stepping down as leader at this year's party congress in Seinäjoki, saying that he had handed a letter to a trusted confidante outlining his full thoughts and rationale for the change, but that it could not be opened until 2031.

Halla-aho himself had deposed the party's previous leader Timo Soini in 2017, prompting a government crisis and eventually a schism as the party's coalition partners said they could not work with a Finns Party led by Halla-aho.

The breakaway group, Blue Reform, remained in government with 19 MPs while the Finns Party went into opposition. In the 2019 election the Finns Party gained 39 MPs while Blue Reform failed to get a single candidate elected.

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