Centre Party MP Mauri Pekkarinen has withdrawn from the race for the chairmanship of the opposition Centre Party.
At a press conference on Friday Pekkarinen said that the Centre Party’s current leaders are trying to influence the outcome of the election. Pekkarinen feels that the present leaders have linked him and fellow contender Paavo Väyrynen together, and sent out a message according to which neither of the two should be chosen.
“The message came through. A generational change is needed”, Pekkarinen said. “I do not want to be involved after something like this. It would be difficult to get everybody’s support as a chairman.”
Pekkarinen also said that the decision by Mari Kiviniemi to give up the party leadership also influenced his decision. He said that he came to his decision on Thursday night.
He reiterated that he would still be in the race if Kiviniemi had not pulled out. In his view the tone of debate within the party has changed, which has led to a loss of motivation on his part.
“If I take on a job, I’ll give it all that I can. Now these weeks deprived me of joy and of fervour to seek the chairmanship of this party”, he told reporters on Friday.
The candidates for the Centre Party leadership took part in a televised debate on Thursday evening.
According to a poll commissioned by the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE), Paavo Väyrynen is the most popular candidate for the leadership of the Centre Party, getting the support of 33 per cent of supporters of the Party. Tuomo Puumala came in second with 20 per cent support. Mauri Pekkarinen was third with 18 per cent support.
The poll was taken before Pekkarinen announced his withdrawal. He did not give his endorsement to any of the other candidates on Friday.