The Centre Party’s district chiefs are widely in favour of granting Prime Minister Juha Sipilä a second term as the chairperson of the Centre Party.
Maaseudun Tulevaisuus has reported that the heads of 17 out of the 21 district organisations of the party remain supportive of the incumbent chairperson, despite the sliding poll numbers of the Centre Party. Many cited the improved economic situation and successful implementation of the government programme as reasons for their continuing support for Sipilä.
The remaining four district chiefs were unavailable to comment on the issue.
The Centre Party has lost roughly a fifth of its support after claiming 21.8 per cent of the vote in the parliamentary elections of 2015. YLE, for example, measured voter support for the party at 17.4 per cent in October.
Although the sliding poll numbers have intensified calls for and speculation over a leadership change, it appears that the district chiefs would rather shift the blame to Jouni Ovaska, the party secretary of the Centre Party. As many as six district chiefs indicated their willingness to replace the party secretary in the party conference taking place next summer in Sotkamo, according to Uutissuomalainen.
The head of the Swedish-speaking district organisation of the Centre Party, Peter Knuts, believes the media deserves at least part of the blame for the struggles of Sipilä. He also remains confident that the party will yet turn around its poll numbers.
“The media, most of which advocate social democracy, want to hurt the Centre,” he commented to MTV.
“Sipilä is someone who’s working hard. If you compare him to our party secretary, [the latter] isn’t working.”
Sipilä has announced his willingness to continue at the helm of the Centre Party, if he wins the necessary number of votes in the party conference. He is expected to drum up support for his re-election bid during the course of this autumn.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi