National Coalition Party has shortage of potential Presidential candidates
Niinistö hesitates, Stubb not interested in domestic tasks
Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Stubb (Nat. Coalition Party) says that he is not interested in running for President of Finland. Instead, he says that he wants to continue to serve either as Foreign Minister, or in some other international role.
“National politics is not my thing”, Stubb said to Helsingin Sanomat.
Presidential elections are to be held in Finland in January 2012. Opinion polls have suggested that the conservative National Coalition Party is likely to be the winner.
However, the favourite for the candidacy, Speaker of Parliament Sauli Niinistö, is hesitating.
On Monday, at an event marking his upcoming candidacy for the chairmanship of the Football Association of Finland, Niinistö said that his interest in the election has decreased practically with each passing day.
Potential candidates in the party’s Parliamentary group include Stubb and Minister of Finance Jyrki Katainen.
The National Coalition Party sees its predicament as relatively good, compared to that of the Centre Party or the Social Democrats, who suffer from a serious shortage of credible potential candidates.
Stubb has nevertheless made it clear that he does not want to run.
“If I have some added value for this country, I think that the value would come from international tasks. In domestic policy, I put my trust in completely different people.”
Party Chairman and Finance Minister Katainen feels that it is premature to guess whether or not Niinistö will take part in the race.
“Of course everyone hopes that Sauli will run, but I am not interested in commenting on this yet”, Katainen said on Tuesday during a break in the meeting of EU ministers of finance in Luxembourg on Tuesday.
Katainen feels that the office of the President of the Republic is no longer the goal or climax of a Finnish political career.
Niinistö’s recent reluctance did not come as a surprise to many figures in the National Coalition Party, as he has already spoken of a waning interest in the office.
He is reportedly tired of having everything that he does viewed from the perspective of the Presidential race.
National Coalition Party MP Pertti Salolainen feels that a decisive factor is how the office of President will develop in the future.
“Niinistö probably does not want to be a ceremonial president. I have long wondered why the party leadership is advocating a position for the President, which is quite different from that of today’s main candidate”, Salolainen says, with reference to the work of the Parliament’s constitutional law committee headed by Christoffer Taxell.
Niinistö himself does not support sharp cuts in the Presidential authority, while the National Coalition Party is in favour of such changes.
In 2000 Niinistö, who was then the Minister of Finance and the Chairman of the National Coalition Party, resisted attempts to persuade him to run for President.
In the elections of 2006, Niinistö did take part and made it into the second round, finally losing to incumbent Tarja Halonen, the candidate of the Social Democratic Party.
His good second-place finish was seen to boost the political standing of the National Coalition Party.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Vanhanen: no run for Presidency in 2012 (26.1.2009)
YLE survey: Stubb seen as new contender in next Presidential race (21.8.2008)
Niinistö holds big lead in Suomen Kuvalehti poll on next President (7.4.2008)
EDITORIAL: Shortage of candidates for Presidential Election 2012 (27.1.2009)