Left Alliance candidate Paavo Arhinmäki wants to challenge ”dinosaurs” in Presidential campaign
The last entrant and the only minister in the race is accusing other candidates of hiding their real NATO stances
And then there were eight.
Minister of Culture and Sport Paavo Arhinmäki (Left Alliance) is ready to run for President, as he would like to bring up themes like the growing income gap and the Finns’ hostile attitude towards the minorities and dissimilarity.
”And of course there is Finland’s foreign and security policy. Here you have a candidate who will adamantly stand against Finland’s membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)”, Arhinmäki declared on Friday.
Left Alliance leader Arhinmäki announced in Friday’s Kansan Uutiset, the party’s weekly newspaper, that he would consent to be a candidate for the presidential election of 2012. The party council made a formal appointment on Sunday. At 34, Arhinmäki will be the all-time youngest presidential candidate in Finland.
The decision was put off for a long time, while the party was desperately looking for some other candidates as Arhinmäki himself was trying to avoid being nominated.
”Initially, I thought that it would be good to find a female candidate, but at the same time, more and more people have suggested that I should stand as a candidate”, Arhinmäki notes.
According to Arhinmäki, it started to look like the election would become very political. The idea of a candidate who would represent the cultural field was rejected.
Some Left Alliance members also suggested that the party should not name a candidate of its own, but some others said that it is important to have a truly leftist candidate in the presidential race.
At the party council meeting, rival candidates were blamed for being grey and rather stuffy.
”Our Paavo [Arhinmäki becomes the third Paavo in the race after Paavo Lipponen (SDP) and Paavo Väyrynen (Centre Party), both appreciably older and more experienced than him] will challenge the memoirs of the dinosaurs”, said Left Alliance deputy chair Aino-Kaisa Pekonen.
Campaigning is expensive, even though Arhinmäki says that he would spend only one-tenth of the sum Sauli Niinistö (National Coalition) is to use. Niinistö’s budget for the first round will be EUR 1.3 million.
Apart from penny-pinching, another practical problem would be the fact that Arhinmäki will be the only minister in the group of presidential candidates.
The minister’s calender will be fully booked even without an endless stream of panel debates and campaign trips.
”Some candidates will pay a visit to every single municipality, but it would be good if we managed to visit at least every province”, Arhinmäki says.
”In January, the ministry will not be so busy, which is why I will be able to focus on the campaign on a full-time basis”, Arhinmäki believes.
On Friday, Arhinmäki defended his strict anti-NATO stand by saying that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a remnant of the Cold War.
”It continues to be a military alliance, even though it is trying to assume the role of the United Nations”, Arhinmäki argued.
According to Arhinmäki, Finland can cooperate with the NATO ”to a necessary extent”, but Finland should focus its attention on peacekeeping and not on crisis management tasks, in which we are parties to civil wars.
In his address to the party council, Arhinmäki suspected that some of the other presidential candidates were concealing their real stances on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
He noted further that the president and the candidates should defend human dignity, fighting strongly against racism, in a reference to his view that Finnish politics has been infiltrated by entities that are prepared to dispute the human worth of sections of the population.
WHO IS PAAVO ARHINMÄKI?
Chairman of the Left Alliance since June 2009.
A 34-year-old Minister for Culture and Sport, a Left Alliance Member of Parliament since 2007.
Secured the largest number of individual votes (17,000) in Helsinki at the last parliamentary election.
Born in Helsinki in 1976, married to veterinarian Päivi Lahti.
A political science student. Has felt drawn towards politics ever since he was a child. On the secondary level of comprehensive school, Arhimäki was the chairman of the student body, and at the age of 23, he was a member of the city council.
Arhinmäki’s passionate hobby is football. He plays as well as watching, and is a member of the Parliament team.
Previously in HS International Edition:
MP Paavo Arhinmäki wants greener shade of red for Left Alliance (11.6.2009)
Presidential poll: Niinistö remains overwhelming front-runner, Väyrynen support rising (15.11.2011)
COMMENTARY: Culture wars - Arhinmäki vs. Klinge (13.9.2011)
Paavo Arhinmäki (Wikipedia)
Arhinmäki official site (in Finnish & Swedish)