Finland's Center Party elects new chair

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HELSINKI, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) -- Finland's Center Party on Saturday elected Minister of Science and Culture Annika Saarikko as new chairperson at its convention in Oulu, northern Finland.

Center is one of the five parties in the current Finnish center-left coalition government under Prime Minister Sanna Marin.

Saarikko, 36, got 51 percent of the 2,264 votes and was elected in the first round. Of the other candidates, incumbent chairperson Katri Kulmuni, who had been running for re-election, failed with 773 votes.

In June, Kulmuni stepped down from the position of Finance Minister following revelation that government money had been used for her personal political coaching before the Center Party convention of 2019.

Local political commentators noted there were no major political differences between Kulmuni and her challenger Saarikko, and the election result was more related to perceived management style and party image.

The commentators have said Saarikko would have better prerequisites for cooperation in the coalition, especially with Marin. The cohesion of the coalition has been perceived to have improved also because of the entry of former Centrist PM Matti Vanhanen as Finance Minister in June, following Kulmuni's exit.

Also on Saturday, the chairman of the National Coalition Party Petteri Orpo was re-elected as chairman in the party convention in Pori, western Finland. The National Coalition Party is the second largest opposition party, following the Finns Party. Enditem

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