Other Centre Party MPs do not warm to Väyrynen's views on party chairman’s age
“Being over sixty is not a prerequisite”
Whether his remarks were tongue in cheek, a serious overture to a run for the chairmanship, or merely a means of provoking discussion within the party ranks on how to go forward from here, the comments by Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Paavo Väyrynen on Tuesday were not exactly met with open arms by some of his Centre Party colleagues.
Six male MPs from the Centre Party criticised Väyrynen for his views regarding the age of the new party leader.
Väyrynen reckoned on Tuesday that because of the country’s economic situation opting for a “more experienced” party leader would be a smart move. Väyrynen is 63, a former Centre Party chairman (1980-1990), and has been a minister in various governments dating back to the 1970s.
The Tuesday statement by the MPs can be interpreted as a response to Väyrynen’s comments, even though he was not mentioned by name in it.
The statement was signed by Antti Kaikkonen, Timo Kaunisto, Jari Leppä, Mika Lintilä, Juha Rehula, and Kimmo Tiilikainen.
In their view the upcoming party leader would have to be able to remain at the helm of the Centre Party for several terms.
“Being over sixty is not a prerequisite for the party leadership. It has not been before, and will not be this time either”, the MPs say.
Väyrynen has not announced that he would run for the party leadership, made vacant by Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen's recent announcement that he would not be seeking re-election at the party's conference in June, but neither has he ruled out the possibility.
Väyrynen is by no means an exception. So far nobody has declared their candidacy.
Public discussions have revolved around ten or so names as possible candidates.
Of the MPs who signed the statement, the 35-year-old Kaikkonen and 43-year-olds Lintilä and Tiilikainen have also been included in the ante-post betting.
The future Centre Party chairman is also expected to become the next prime minister of Finland.
The Helsinki branch of the Young National Coalition Party organisation added to the mix on Wednesday by stating that Minister of Finance Jyrki Katainen (the National Coalition Party leader) should become the next PM.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Veteran Centre Party politician Paavo Väyrynen hints at run for leadership (5.1.2010)
Vanhanen: careful consideration behind decision to give up Centre Party leadership (31.12.2009)
COMMENTARY: Christmas break gives Centre Party figures time to consider Party leadership issue
Paavo Väyrynen (Wikipedia)