Just one Green leadership candidate so far, as front-runner drops out

Only Outi Alanko-Kahilut has said she wants to be the Greens' new temporary leader - but when Maria Ohisalo dropped out of the race it could be part of a bigger strategy.

File picture of Green Alliance MP Outi Alanko-Kahiluoto / Credit: Vihreät

The early front-runner to lead Finland’s Green Alliance political party says she won’t join the race to be the new chairperson.

Only Helsinki MP Outi Alanko-Kahiluoto has so far said she wants the job.

Helsinki City Councilor Maria Ohisalo had been the temporary leader of the party while Touko Aalto was on sick leave. But last week Aalto announced he was stepping down from the position while he seeks medical help for a long-term battle against depression.

Today she announced that she would not be running for the top job, at least this time round.

“We need a green face known all over Finland” wrote Ohisalo in the Green party newspaper.

“The chairman must jump on a fast moving train and immediately begin to raise the electoral mood. We need a reliable green face” she says.

Possible strategic move?

Finland’s Greens have term limits on their party chairs, with the incumbent holding the job for two years at a time. Touko Aalto’s position becomes vacant now, and the next chairperson will stay in the role until the end of Aalto’s original mandate.

So could Ohisalo’s decision not to run as party chair now be part of a smart strategic move to have a familiar face leading the Greens through the election, and then run for the two-year job when it falls vacant again early next summer?

“Maria Ohisalo feels she’s a bit too unknown to run an election campaign on such short notice. Personally in my opinion this signals for a someone very well known and very experienced like Ville Niinistö or Pekka Haavisto who is going to be elected for this short period, then next spring or summer we’re going to see Ohisalo probably going to run then” says Jenni Karimäki from the Centre for Parliamentary Studies at Turku University.

Having a more senior party leader in the short term like ex-chair Niinistö, or former cabinet minister and two-time presidential candidate Haavisto, would potentially be a boon for the Greens if they were involved in negotiations to form the next government. A steady hand on the tiller – not to mention a welcome boost in the polls from either of these two very popular politicians – could be the shot in the arm the party needs.

“I feel that the situation with my party is good, the party itself has never been in a crisis, but the chairman had a personal crisis” says Green MP Satu Hassi.

“My feeling is that we have several talented people who could be good chairpersons, but if you look at the situation as a whole the Greens are still in Finland getting almost 50% more than in the last parliament election, and in opinion polls we are clearly the number one among young people” the MP, herself a former party leader and environment minister tells News Now Finland.