MP Petri Honkonen joins Centre Party leadership race

The Central Finland politician is the party's current Vice Chairman and says he will outline his policy platform over the next few weeks.

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MP Petri Honkonen (Centre) announces his bid to be party chair, Helsinki 3rd August 2020 / Credit: @LauriNikula twitter

The Vice Chairman of the Centre Party Petri Honkanen has joined the race to be the next party leader, challenging incumbent Katri Kulmuni.

He’s the second serious contender from within the party to step forward after Minister of Science and Culture Annika Saarikko announced her candidacy last Thursday.

The 33-year old second term MP from Central Finland says his party needs to change to adapt to the crisis which Finland finds itself in.

“I see that Finland needs the Centre Party. Finland is in a very serious economic situation and have lots of big challenges. And I believe that when I lead the Centre Party, we can lead Finland to the right direction.”

Honkonen wouldn’t be drawn on whether he thought the Centre Party wasn’t going in the right direction with Katri Kulmuni in charge, preferring to focus on his own ideas.

“I see that instability within the government is a problem, but it’s not about leadership of the Centre Party or the other parties. But my vision is the Centre Party must stay in government and we must focus on the big problems and big challenges what Finland has, and via the government we can also solve these problems” he tells News Now Finland.

One Finnish newspaper described Honkonen on Monday as “Euro critical”, but he refutes that framing, saying he was “very surprised” by the headline.

“I believe in the European cooperation. I believe in the EU. But it’s interesting that when a politician wants to discuss about the euro, and the problems the euro system and the EU has, always you can’t do it as a politician without being called an EU critic” he explains.

“I see that we need European cooperation as a small country, we need it a lot. But we have to see that the euro system may have in future even bigger problems than it has had lately, and I think the Centre Party must also have a programme how we can lead Finland if there is an even bigger crisis in the eurozone than we have now” Honkanen adds.

The MP says his support comes from across the party, and that when he unveils more of his policy priorities in the coming weeks he’ll do a tour to spread the message and attract more supporter.

The Centre Party’s convention takes place in Oulu in early September and delegates will vote for the next chairperson at that time.