MP Elina Lepomäki makes unexpected Helsinki election announcement

The Kokoomus politician says she doesn't aspire to be Helsinki's mayor and is backing her fellow MP Juhanna Vartiainen, who says he is considering a bid.

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MP Elina Lepomäki launches her Helsinki City Council election bid, 28th February 2021 / Credit: C. Schoultz

National Coalition Party MP Elina Lepomäki has announced that she’ll be a candidate in May’s municipal elections, standing for a Helsinki City Council seat – but that she doesn’t want to be the mayor.

The move was surprising because just a few days before, Lepomäki told Ilta-Sanomat that she had neither the time nor inclination to participate in the municipal elections, citing her recent divorce, and saying she didn’t even know which municipality she would live in. She also said she wanted to spend more time with her children “and protect them.”

However there’s been a swift change of political heart for Lepomäki, who is also a vice chair of the National Coalition Party, as she now says “I have decided to run for Helsinki City Council. I am looking for a councilman’s seat and I will support a candidate for mayor later.”

Listing her Helsinki credentials, Lepomäki – who is considered on the fiscal right of her party, and these days liberal but with an immigrant-critical background – says she went to school in Kamppi, played basketball in northern Helsinki and has lived in the capital several times as an adult.

This would be Lepomäki’s first foray into municipal politics, which she described this week as “not the reason why I originally went into politics. It was never the number one choice for me” but her candidacy will be a fillip for Kokoomus.

The politician was the NCP’s biggest vote-getter in Uusimaa, and the fifth most popular MP in terms of number of votes cast at the 2019 parliamentary election.

Her entry into the Helsinki municipal election race comes less than 24 hours after her party’s candidate for mayor, Kirsi Piha, dropped out of contention, citing an ideological rift within Kokoomus that she didn’t feel she could bridge.

Elina Lepomäki tells Helsingin Sanomat that she doesn’t aspire to be Helsinki’s mayor and is instead backing fellow Kokoomus MP Juhanna Vartianen for the job. He has yet to make any formal decision but Vartiainen says he is “curiously and positively considering a possible mayoral candidacy.”