Second contender joins Centre Party leadership race

Lapland MP Katri Kulmuni says she wants to be the next leader of the Centre Party when ex-PM Juha Sipilä steps down.

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File picture of Minister of Economic Affairs Katri Kumula (Centre) / Credit: Keskusta

Minister of Economic Affairs Katri Kulmuni has become the second candidate to say they want to be the new leader of the Centre Party.

Current chairman, former Prime Minister Juha Sipilä will step down in the autumn, falling on his sword after leading the party to a disappointing fourth place in the April general election.

Although the Centre Party ultimately ended up in government, Sipilä announced his intention to quit the party’s top job after losing 18 seats in parliament.

Lapland MP Kulmuni has been Vice Chair of the Centre Party since 2016, and says that after “two of the worst election results in our history”, the party needs to re-connect with its grassroots.

“Basically we are a folk movement, in fact, it’s finally about how to make your neighborhood better, no matter where it is. In blocks, centers, suburbs, villages. The Centre must be an enabler and a gateway to influence” Kulmuni tells News Now Finland.

Kulmuni says that she’s been working at the heart of the Centre Party for many years, and although the party had good election results during that time, it was no longer “a channel of influence for the large crowds that it could at its best”.

“From the aspect of regional politics and in the true sense of the word, the Centre wants to give every Finn equal starting points to learn, grow and live exactly where the heart wants to. Caring for equal treatment of every Finn, wherever a person lives, is the job of the Center in this country” she explains.

Kulmuni says that if she wins the leadership contest she will also use her position to promote entrepreneurship, and deepen the party’s commitment to nature and the environment.

Other candidates in and out of the race 

Last week, Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen became the first candidate to declare his interest in the job of Centre Party chair.

Other prominent MPs like Parliamentary Group leader Antti Kurvinen, Minister of Art and Culture Annika Saarikko and North Karelia MP Anu Vehviläinen have already ruled themselves out of contention for the party chair job.

Party delegates vote on who the next leader will be at a conference in Kouvola on 7th September.