Greens pick Pekka Haavisto to see them through the elections

Veteran politician got mostly praise from political colleagues on his election to the Green party's top job.

File picture of Pekka Haavisto (Green) / Credit: Vihreät

Finland’s Green Alliance political party has voted veteran politician Pekka Haavisto to be their new chairman.

Haavisto, a former cabinet minister, two time presidential candidate and UN envoy, will serve the remaining term of office of Touko Aalto, who resigned in October due to an ongoing battle with depression. Aalto was elected in summer 2017 for a two year period, so now Haavisto will complete that, and the Greens will hold another full leadership contest early next summer.

Sixty-year old Haavisto only announced his candidacy on Thursday after several other well-regarded party figures like Emma KariVille Niinstö and Maria Ohisalo had declined to run.

That left Haavisto facing MP Outi Alanko-Kahiluot in Saturday’s vote, which he comfortably won by a margin of 40-1.

Noting that the party will have to face two elections in the spring – the Finnish general election and also European Parliament elections – Haavisto says the key themes for the Greens will be stopping climate change, restoring the value of education, respecting equality and human rights, and developing a circular economy.

“Greens are a credible alternative for all Finnish voters who do not believe in building a lasting prosperity with short-sightedness” Haavisto said in a statement.

Reaction from other politicians

Pekka Haavisto’s election win received mostly positive comments from other Finnish politicians.

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) wrote simply “congratulations”; while National Coalition Party leader Petteri Orpo wrote on twitter that he was “awaiting constructive discussions”.

Sending her congratulations, the Left Alliance’s Li Andersson tweeted that “Finland has important times ahead […] the leaders of the parties have both challenging and extremely interesting moments in store”.

One sour note came from prospective Lapland politician Mikko Kärnä (Centre) who used Haavisto’s election to take a swipe at the Greens’ record of equality by writing “The Feminist party elected a 60-year-old man as its chairman”.

Noting the fast arrangements for the special election, which involved only the Green party’s top brass, Kärnä wrote mockingly on twitter “now quickly get the avocado-papaya smoothies down the throat and then tell the journalists about green democracy”.