Finnish PM Throws His Hat in the Ring for a New TermBy
Juha Sipila says he’s available to lead Center Party
Center trails coalition partner, opposition groups in polls
Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila declared his willingness to continue as the leader of the Center Party whose popularity has slumped to a five-year low.
“I’m fully committed, ready and available,” Sipila said in an interview on YLE TV1 on Saturday. “During the winter, we’ll see if the Center Party is ready to continue under my leadership, and if they’re not, we’ll have to change the leader.”
When Sipila became premier after the 2015 general election, he vowed to step down after one term if his coalition government failed to revive the economy from the depths of a double-dip recession. Work in that area was going well, Sipila said Saturday.
Finland’s competitiveness against key trade rivals Germany and Sweden has improved, partly thanks to an unpopular pact the government hammered out with labor market organizations that pushed workers to work longer hours for less pay. A cyclical recovery in the economy is under way.
Sipila’s party trails its main coalition partner, Finance Minister Petteri Orpo’s National Coalition, and the top two opposition groups, in polls. A survey of voters, published on Saturday by Lannen Media, showed about half of Center Party supporters would like Sipila to continue, compared with 22 percent of all voters. The party votes on a leader in June 2018 ahead of the April 2019 general election.