Former Prime Minister and Speaker of Parliament Paavo Lipponen announced on Thursday afternoon that he would seek the nomination of the Social Democratic Party in next year’s presidential elections.
Former MP and MEP Lasse Lehtinen, who had previously said that he would seek the SDP nomination, said soon after Lipponen's announcement that he was dropping out of the race.
Before Lipponen’s announcement Helsinki Deputy Mayor Tuula Haatainen and MP Ilkka Kantola had said that they would probably be available as SDP presidential candidates.
Haatainen could not be reached on Wednesday for comment on whether or not Lipponen’s possible candidacy would affect her decision. On Thursday Kantola reiterated his intention to seek the Social Democratic nomination, if he gets the backing of at least ten party district organisations or 250 party members.
Speaker of ParliamentEero Heinäluoma is considering his possible candidacy for the SDP presidential nomination over the weekend.
MEP Mitro Repo, who told Helsingin Sanomat on Tuesday that he was considering a presidential run, said before Lipponen’s announcement that he hoped that the former Prime Minister would run. Repo also said that he would not run against Lipponen.
Already before Lipponen’s official announcement, SDP party secretary Mikael Jungner welcomed the prospect of a possible candidacy, saying that having a number of heavyweight names in the race would electrify the upcoming vote among party members.
The only official party nominee in the presidential race so far is MP Pekka Haavisto of the Green League.
The overwhelming front-runner in opinion polls is the National Coalition Party’s Sauli Niinistö, who faces no rivals for the party’s nomination.
The Centre Party’s Paavo Väyrynen is also seeking his party’s nomination.