With an eye ahead to next year’s national general election and a European Parliament vote, a number of prominent politicians are giving a thumbs up – or down – to the idea of running for office.
This morning, seasoned politician Liisa Jaakonsaari (SDP) says she won’t stand for re-election to the European Parliament in next spring’s elections. The 73-year-old also says she has no plans to run for Finland’s national parliament either.
Jaakonsaari was first elected to parliament in 1979, and went to the European Parliament two decades later in 2009. She also served as Minister of Labour from 1995 to 1999.
And also today, veteran MP Mauri Pekkarinen (Centre) bowed out of a 40-year career in politics. The Deputy Speaker of Parliament – age 71 – says he won’t run for re-election in 2019.
Long List Of Non-Runners
Jaakonsaari and Pekkarinen join a long list of former high level politicians who have already declared they won’t be running for election in 2019.
The list of ex-ministers alone includes former Minister of Labour Lauri Ihalainen (SDP); former Trade Minister Kauko Juhantalo (Centre); former Foreign Minister Pertti Salolainen (NCP); former Europe Minister Lenita Toivakka (NCP); former Local Government Minister Tapani Tölli (Centre); and two ex Defence Ministers, Seppo Kääriäinen (Centre) and Stefan Wallin (SFP).
Two other high profile political names who so far have not confirmed their 2019 intentions are Foreign Minister Timo Soini (Blue), and former Prime Minister and presidential candidate Matti Vanhanen (Centre).
Soini has been dogged with rumours of ill health over the last few years, and some commentators aren’t sure if he’s got the fight left in him for another domestic election – especially as the party he helped establish, Finns Party, broke in half last summer in a bitter split.
Meanwhile Vanhanen had a disasterous presidential election campaign, finishing almost last as the Centre Party’s official candidate with just 4% of the votes.
In January on election night he told News Now Finland that he would have to think carefully about his political future.
“I have been active in politics 40 years and some day I will also think how I will retire and have a better life. I have not even decided will I run to parliament after one year. I will continue now in parliament and somewhere during this spring or the beginning of next autumn I will decide will I run again to parliament or not. I don’t know it yet” he said at the time.
Other Candidates Are In
It’s not all departures and retirements for Finnish politicians.
Today, former Lapland MP Mikko Kärnä (Centre) said he would contest his old seat in the spring.
Kärnä had been the Centre Party’s alternate in 2015 when Paavo Väyrynen won the seat, but was promoted to the job when Väyrynen went off to be an MEP in Brussels. Väyrynen’s return to domestic politics before summer sealed Kärnä’s fate and he was out of a job at parliament.
The Blue Reform party has also been lining up its prospective MPs. A few weeks ago Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö declared his candidacy.
He joins his colleagues Simon Elo; Europe Minister Sampo Terho; Labour Minister Jari Lindström; and Minister of Social Affairs and Health Pirkko Mattilä who all previously announced their intentions to stand as Blue Reform candidates in 2019.