Centre Party Secretary Jarmo Korhonen: “Tiura sought to switch to Centre Party camp”
Businessman Arto Merisalo: “Tiura was after a minister’s portfolio”
MP Marja Tiura (National Coalition Party) says in an interview in the latest issue of the Apu magazine that the Centre Party Secretary Jarmo Korhonen courted her to switch to the Centre Party camp after the last general election in 2007.
“Tiura’s claim is untrue”, Korhonen told Helsingin Sanomat on Wednesday.
According to Korhonen, Tiura was the one taking the initiative and making the initial contact with him through businessman Arto Merisalo.
When interviewed by the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE’s news programme Yle Uutiset, Merisalo confirmed that the initiator was Ms. Tiura. According to Merisalo, Tiura was after a minister’s portfolio, which was not being offered to her on the National Coalition side.
According to Korhonen, Merisalo contacted him in the middle of the post-election government negotiations at 4 o’clock on a Thursday afternoon.
Korhonen said he later had a telephone negotiation with Tiura on the subject. They did not meet face to face.
“The situation was difficult for us. We were about to form a joint government with the National Coalition Party", noted Korhonen.
The Centre Party Secretary said he transferred the matter to the Party Chairman Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, because as the Party Secretary he was not authorised to do anything else but to receive the offer.
In his view it was natural that he was the first point of contact in such a matter.
The situation was over within a couple of days.
It was done and dusted by Saturday of the same week, and was never brought up again.
“We always conduct a polite discussion if someone wants to join the party”, said Korhonen.
In the Parliamentary election of March 2007, Marja Tiura stood in the Pirkanmaa constituency and received 17,578 votes.
The large haul of votes - the largest gained by any candidate or any party in this consitutency, the fourth largest in the country as a whole, and the highest by any female candidate - still did not guarantee her a place on the National Coalition government benches.
Helsingin Sanomat was unable to reach Tiura on Wednesday to comment on this latest rather confusing development.
Tiura has been at the centre of a heated debate on election campaign funding irregularities that has continued in Finland for a couple of years now.
She received EUR 20,000 in election support from the Kehittyvien maakuntien Suomi (KMS) coalition.
In fact, the donation was higher than any of the sums donated by KMS to other politicians.
Ambiguous sofa deals, photography bills, and plane tickets have been connected with her, and she is currently under investigation over claims that she took a bribe in her role as a member of the board of the Anna Tapio School in Pälkäne (see linked article).
No charges have been filed as yet, and Tiura has denied the allegations.
Now, it seems she is once again finding herself in a difficult situation, where it is her word against someone else’s word.
”Of course it was Party Secretary Jarmo Korhonen who was the busybody. Apparently the aim was to cause confusion in the National Coalition Party camp. Tiura said that she would not do such a thing even if the Centre Party were the only party in the country”, weekly magazine Apu writes.
“To think that someone has the nerve to offer the membership of another party immediately after the election. The Centre Party office would do well to learn to respect the principles of parliamentarism”, the magazine quotes Tiura as saying.
In the interview, Tiura says that she has paid a hefty price for her thoughtlessness and naivety.
“I trusted people that I should not have trusted.”
“I can say that a group of men, who operate in sync with the Centre Party and who have certain influence in the media, have now been hot on my tail for a year and a half”, Tiura tells her Apu interviewer.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Police suspect MP Marja Tiura of taking a bribe (3.12.2009)
National Coalition Party and candidates to return donations from Nova Group (17.9.2009)
Marja Tiura´s husband to step down from top position at YLE (17.9.2009)
Nova Group backed KMS with at least EUR 145,000 (6.6.2008)