Juha Sipilä on Tuesday announced he will hand over the reins of the Centre Party in September. (Martti Kainulainen – Lehtikuva)

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JUHA SIPILÄ on Tuesday announced he will relinquish his duties as the chairperson of the Centre Party.

“The election results leave me with no other choice. The party government that convened today at my request has decided to call an extraordinary party conference to elect a new chairperson for the Centre on 7 September 2019,” he stated on Twitter.

The Centre Party slumped to its worst showing in more than a century in the parliamentary elections held in Finland on Sunday, winning 13.8 per cent of the vote and 31 seats in the Finnish Parliament for 2019–2023.

“The Centre deserves a new inspiring start,” acknowledged Sipilä. “The party will start its reform process and put together a reform programme for itself. The new chairperson will lay the groundwork for the party’s strong future.”

Sipilä added that he will continue performing his duties at the helm of the party until the extraordinary party conference.

His announcement immediately kindled speculation about the next chairperson of the Centre Party. Antti Kaikkonen, who served as the chairperson of the Centre Parliamentary Group, and Annika Saarikko, the Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services, were both forwarded as viable candidates to take the reins of the centrist, agrarian party come September.

Kaikkonen commented on the speculation briefly on Facebook on Tuesday.

“I don’t plan on rushing things, but I’ll keep my ears open. If there’s genuine support for [my candidacy], then I’ll naturally have to consider it more seriously. As the extraordinary party conference won’t be held until next autumn, I’m not in a hurry. We’ll get back to this later this spring,” he wrote.

Both Kaikkonen and Saarikko received around 10,000 votes in the elections last Sunday.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi