Paavo Väyrynen’s Presidential Bid Falters

Veteran politician has only collected about half the signatures he needs to mount an independent bid to be Finland's next president.

Commemorative mug featuring Paavo Väyrynen and his wife Vuokko, sold as part of his presidential election fundraising campaign

A bid to enter the 2018 Presidential election race by veteran politician Paavo Väyrynen has hit a snag: he can’t get enough endorsements.

Candidates need 20,000 signatures from registered voters to be able to run – if they’re not already nominated by a parliamentary party.

So that means incumbent president Sauli Niinistö, who is running without a party affiliation this time, has to gather 20,000 names.

And former Lapland MP Väyrynen, who quit the Centre Party to form his own political party, and is a member of the European Parliament, also needs to find 20,000 people willing to endorse him.

So far, he’s got about half of that number. And he’s got until 12th December to get all the names to the Ministry of Justice.

“The raw truth is that my supporters have so far received just under 10,000 signatures so far” says Väyrynen in a statement.

“The collection of cards has been surprisingly laborious. There are only a few dozen people in my network collecting them” he adds.

In today’s Rural Future newspaper, Väyrynen’s campaign is publishing a registration card that would-be supporters can cut out, sign, and send to endorse his presidential bid.

Last month, Väyrynen said he will quit the European Parliament and return to domestic politics and take up his Lapland seat in parliament, if he isn’t elected president.

Observers say that leaves a loophole for Väyrynen to stay in Brussels – he can’t lose the presidential election, if he doesn’t even contest it.