MP Antti Kaikkonen will not run for Centre Party chairmanship
Deadline for candidacy is this Wednesday
MP Antti Kaikkonen will not enter the race for the leadership of the opposition Centre Party to be determined in June.
Kaikkonen announced his decision through his blog on Sunday.
“Regrettably, in the autumn I will have to go to court to defend myself in the case of Nuorisosäätiö [a youth housing foundation]. If I was the chairman of the party this would mean that the Centre Party people really would go through some anxious times while waiting for the court’s ruling”, Kaikkonen wrote in justifying his decision.
Kaikkonen says that he firmly believes in his innocence, but sees that “from the point of view of the group” staying out of the race is the wiser course.
In the Nuorisosäätiö case, the prosecution is calling for a suspended sentence for Kaikkonen.
During Kaikkonen’s chairmanship of Nuorisosäätiö, the organisation gave election campaign support to politicians, among other things by purchasing paintings and tickets to seminars.
Some of the purchases were aimed to give support to Kaikkonen’s own parliamentary election campaigns.
The pending court case - another strand of the campaign financing scandals that emerged from Finland's 2007 elections - has also put a stop to the adoption process that Kaikkonen and his spouse had commenced.
The deadline for listing as a candidate for the Centre Party chairmanship is on Wednesday April 25th at 16:00. This is when the candidates will be announced for an advisory vote among the party members.
So far, Paavo Väyrynen, Mauri Pekkarinen, Juha Sipilä, and Tuomo Puumala have announced their bids for the Centre Party leadership.
Väyrynen is seeking to make a comeback to the party leadership on the back of a strong showing in the Presidential election campaign, although he is no longer a Member of Parliament.
The current chair Mari Kiviniemi, who was Prime Minister in the previous coalition government until the Centre were forced into opposition at the polls in April 2011, has announced she will not be standing for re-election
Kimmo Tiilikainen, Elsi Katainen, Juha Rehula, Olli Rehn, and Maria Kaisa Aula have all reported that they will not run for the party’s chairmanship at this time.
The vote among the members will take place on May 25th-27th and the advance vote on May 14th-16th.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Election contributions bring bribery charges against Vihriälä and Kaikkonen (30.9.2011)
Dissent within Centre Party troubles Kiviniemi (3.4.2012)
Paavo Väyrynen announces bid for Centre Party leadership (8.2.2012)
COMMENTARY: Centre Party and the ring of silence around Mari Kiviniemi (3.4.2012)
Tuomo Puumala enters race for Centre Party leadership (13.4.2012)