Tempers flare over campaign funding at meeting of Centre Party executive and parliamentary group
A joint meeting of the party executive and parliamentary group of the Centre Party on Friday descended into unusual mutual recriminations.
At the meeting, held in Lappeenranta, there were direct accusations levelled against the party’s Chairman, Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, and against other leading figures in the party. They were charged with ignoring the problems related to the controversy over election funding.
There were complaints on Friday that the constant repetition of calls to trust the party leaders was ringing false.
“It simply goes against common sense”, said MP Kimmo Tiilikainen at the meeting.
One influential veteran member of the party executive criticised the party leaders exceptionally severely for fostering a culture of silence, and noted that an internal discussion should have been held in the party two years ago, and not two months before the party congress.
Party Secretary Jarmo Korhonen made note of the criticism that had been raised at the meeting, but insisted that everything was all right. He also said that there would be no special audit of the party’s finances.
Korhonen himself was the target of heavy criticism. He defended himself, saying that he had not given his subordinates permission for anything other than providing technical support for election funding.
Korhonen lashed out at his critics, and a number of faces were seen flushed red as they left the meeting.
Deputy chairwoman and Minister of the Environment Paula Lehtomäki has called for the establishment of a truth commission of sorts to clear up all possible irregularities before the party congress in Lahti.
In addition to the financing question, Lehtomäki has been calling for a political assay into confidence in general. This would require approval from the party congress.
PM Matti Vanhanen said before the meeting that the party leadership had gone through the matters and decided that no further inspections would be needed. The intensity of the meeting seems to have come as a complete surprise to Vanhanen, who had tried to promote reconciliation.
Party Secretary Korhonen said in connection with the party executive’s meeting that he is interested in running for Parliament next year in either the Uusimaa or Vaasa electoral districts. He said he would make a final decision on the matter in August.
He added that he would ponder whether or not to seek re-election as Party Secretary during a fishing trip in early June.
Korhonen is known to like to go fishing when life turns stressful.
Korhonen said that he is now concentrating on bringing the ambitious reforms that are underway to a conclusion. One of these is to get a membership card to every one of the party’s 170,000 members.
He also listed a dizzying number of other changes in a manner that is seen to be typical of him.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Centre Party Secretary Korhonen under pressure in campaign finance furore (15.4.2010)
Vanhanen thanked Merisalo for assistance soon after 2007 election (14.4.2010)
Centre Party Secretary Jarmo Korhonen: “Tiura sought to switch to Centre Party camp” (1.4.2010)