Strongest candidates for Soc Dem chair

Yesterday's shock announcement from Social Democratic Party chairman Eero Heinäluoma is obviously the big political news story of the day. According to YLE (fi), Tuomioja and Filatov are "the strongest candidates for party leader". YLE reached 52 of 61 party council members, of whom 33 revealed their current preferences. Erkki Tuomioja got 12 mentions, Tarja Filatov 10, Jutta Urpilainen 6, Maria Guzenina-Richardson 5, and Miapetra Kumpula-Natri 4. Tuula Haatainen, Mikko Mäenpää, Johannes Koskinen, Riitta Myller, and Lasse Lehtinen were also mentioned.

In other words, even the most popular candidate had the backing of less than 20 percent of party council members. Given the rudimentary nature of the field, there's very little we can say about the outcome at the moment, except that Tuomioja, the only one who has announced his candidacy, will in all likelihood still lack the party pooh-bahs' backing. As for the rest, I assume that the support for a fresh face - Urpilainen, Guzenina-Richardson, or Kumpula-Natri - isn't wedded to their current candidate and could be pooled behind the same person.

Incidentally, Lehtinen announced his support for Kumpula-Natri, who was Lehtinen's election chief in the last European Parliament election and pooh-poohed the possibility of taking a crack at it himself. He also described the contest as one between the Tuomioja line and the Paavo Lipponen line, and said that the future chair should be able to advance Finland's NATO membership. It's odd, then, that Kumpula-Natri opposed NATO membership (scroll down to section E) before the parliamentary election.

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