At the Finnish Centre Party’s congress today Mari Kiviniemi was elected leader of the party in succession to Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen. In the second round Kiviniemi defeated Mauri Pekkarinen with 1,357 votes to 1,035.
41-year-old Mari Kiviniemi, since 2007 Minister of Public Administration and Local Government, will thus also become Prime Minister of Finland when Vanhanen resigns in a week or so. Thus Finland will again be in the unusual position of having women as both head of state and head of government.
Kiviniemi will be the second female prime minister of Finland, following Anneli Jääteenmäki, who was in office for two months in 2003 before she was forced to resign over allegations that she had lied to Parliament about how she acquired secret documents on the Iraq war for use in her election campaign (she was acquitted at the subsequent trial and is currently an MEP).