The race for the leadership of the opposition Centre Party took a new turn on Thursday when the party’s deputy chairman Tuomo Puumala announced that he was entering the race.
The 30-year-old Puumala said that he had received “hundreds of messages” from around Finland, asking him to join the race. Adding to the pressure was the announcement by the current party chair Mari Kiviniemi that she would not seek another term.
“The message was not left ambiguous. The Centre Party needs to undergo a generational change”, Puumala said.
In Puumala’s view the Centre Party needs to check its ideological course. He feels that one of the biggest questions is to ponder how the Centre Party differs from the National Coalition Party.
“The message from the membership is that some people are constantly falling off the bandwagon. A feeling has emerged that the Centre Party does not listen to this constituency as sensitively as it should. At worst we have looked like a threadbare National Coalition Party.”
Puumala set the Parliamentary elections of 2019 as the party’s main target of this decade.
He also wants to resolve internal disagreements within the party, which he says are mainly about personal relations.
“We need to talk so long and so thoroughly that the white smoke rises.”
Puumala feels that his advantages in the race include his young age (30), and his extensive experience in politics. His political career began at the age of 18 in the Kokkola City Council, which he entered after the elections in 2000, at the same time as Social Democratic Party leader, Minister of Finance Jutta Urpilainen.
“A young age is not an absolute value, but I believe that a young person can get the young generation on the move, and that is what we need. Everyone knows that the Centre Party is greying.”
He also wants to see more women in the party.