Sari Essayah to seek nomination of Christian Democrats for Finnish presidency
The MEP and former athlete wants to discuss the debt crisis
And then there were seven. The seventh candidate in the upcoming presidential race was in practice confirmed on Monday, when MEP Sari Essayah announced that she would be available for the Christian Democrats to be named as their presidential candidate.
Sari Essayah, a former race walker, was a member of the Finnish Parliament from 2003 to 2007, and in 2009 she was elected to the European Parliament.
Essayah will be officially named as a candidate of the Christian Democrats at the party council meeting on November 26th.
In August, the party congress of the Christian Democrats delegated the choice of the presidential election candidate to the party council. At the same time, the representatives at the party congress announced that supporting a candidate of another party would be forbidden.
Essayah’s candidacy was the result of lengthy wrangling. If Essayah had refused to run for president, the party would have considered remaining outside the presidential race, noted party secretary Asmo Maanselkä.
However, the Christian Democrats are not quite unanimous. Former MP Bjarne Kallis, who was the predecessor of the current party chair Päivi Räsänen, has announced that he will support Sauli Niinistö, the presidential candidate of the National Coalition Party and the current front-runner by a long distance.
Essayah hopes that election debates would discuss questions relating to Europe in particular. In her opinion, the resolution of the ongoing debt crisis in the eurozone is about to end up in methods which are bound to throughly change the character of the European Union.
For example, Essayah regards the euro-countries’ joint responsibility over the debts of the crisis countries as horrifying, saying that ”this situation will not be corrected by socialising debts”.
When it comes to defence policy, Essayah accepts the present government’s line, as she was involved in the government negotiations in which the line was framed.
”No such threats to security are in sight which would make Finland’s NATO membership acute”, she said.
The Left Alliance is now the only political party in Parliament that has not as yet decided whether it will field a candidate of its own in the upcoming presidential election next January.
Sari Essayah, 44, is a former race walker, and won the World Championship gold medal at 10km in Stuttgart in 1993 and the European Championship title in Helsinki in 1994.
A daughter of a Savonian mother and a Moroccan father, Essayah lived as a child in Lapinlahti, in Northern Savonia. After upper secondary school she was an independent candidate in municipal elections, and after retiring from sports she returned to municipal politics as a Christian Democrat.
Next, Essayah moved to Paimio, a municipality in Southwestern Finland, running for Parliament and becoming an MP in 2003. In 2007 she failed to get re-elected, after which she served as the Christian Democrat party secretary from 2007 to 2009. Two years ago she was elected to the European Parliament.
As an MEP she has attracted attention for example by voting against the right to abortion.
When it comes to foreign policy matters, Essayah is especially interested in questions related to the Middle East and North Africa. At the latest party meeting of the Christian Democrats, Essayah concentrated on opposing the Palestinian request for membership of the United Nations.
Sari Essayah is married with two children.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Presidential candidates debate at Helsinki Book Fair (31.10.2011)
Election debates have begun as 2012 Presidental poll takes shape (24.10.2011)
Poll: Niinistö remains overwhelming favourite in presidential race (18.10.2011)
Sari Essayah (Wikipedia)