Finnish PM Vanhanen to step down as Centre Party head

Vanhanen's decision means he will not be able to run for a third term as prime minister in the 2011 parliamentary elections.

Finnish PM Vanhanen to step down as Centre Party head
Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen said on Wednesday that he would not stand for reelection as head of his Centre Party in 2010 due to health reasons.

Vanhanen's decision means he will not be able to run for a third term as prime minister in the 2011 parliamentary elections.

"My decision has been affected by the fact that I, when visiting the doctor in early November, made a preliminary reservation for (leg) surgery for early fall next year," Vanhanen wrote in the Centre Party paper Suomenmaa.

Vanhanen has run the Nordic country's largest party -- part of a four party coalition -- since 2003, but its popularity has fallen in recent months, lagging that of the co-governing conservative party.

"I want to reserve enough time to regain my strength (after the surgery) and I know that in the combination of prime minister/party leader, one cannot think of being absent for longer periods of time," Vanhanen wrote.

In the past year, Vanhanen's Centre Party, along with most of the country's other parties, has been tied up in a political funding scandal.

The Centre Party congress is scheduled for June next year, with parliamentary elections due in spring 2011.


Reuters
Last Mod: 23 Aralık 2009, 10:26
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