President Sauli Niinistö has announced his plans to establish a constituency association to seek re-election as the President of the Republic of Finland.
“The President has become more and more detached from party politics. How would it feel if a presidential candidate was backed by a constituency association?” he stated in a press conference held at his official residence in Helsinki on Monday.
A constituency association is a means for candidates not affiliated with any political parties to stand in public elections. An association for nominating a candidate for the presidential elections must be established by a minimum of 20,000 citizens entitled to vote.
“I’m somewhat intrigued to find out how widely Finns would really support me. I’ve decided to set up a constituency association to look into the situation,” said Niinistö.
He also stressed that his decision should not be interpreted as him turning his back on the National Coalition Party.
“That’s definitely not what I’m saying to the National Coalition. The National Coalition has the right to name me as its candidate. But as I’ve already said, if I can’t put together a constituency association, what am I doing in the elections in the first place,” he reasoned.
Petteri Orpo, the chairperson of the National Coalition, announced shortly after the press conference that Niinistö has the full support of the National Coalition. “Finland needs and Sauli Niinistö deserves a second term. The National Coalition is fully on board,” he tweeted on Monday.
The presidential elections will be held in early 2018, with the first round of voting scheduled to take place on 28 January and the possible second round on 11 February.
The Centre Party, the Green League and the Left Alliance have already unveiled their candidates for the elections. The Finns Party, in turn, has declared that it is intent on nominating a candidate for the elections.
CORRECTION: This story initially claimed that only the Centre has announced its candidate for the presidential elections of 2018. In fact, the Green League and Left Alliance have both unveiled their candidates.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva