Historic change in Finland as women could hold both top state positions - La Treizième Étoile: A blog on EU politics
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Historic change in Finland as women could hold both top state positions

Monday, 21 June 2010
History could to be made today as Mari Kiviniemi is expected to replace Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen who resigned Friday after seven years in charge meaning for the first time in the country’s history that the top two positions of state are held by women.

Matti Vanhanen, left, tenders his resignation to President Tarja Halonen (Source: AP)"The president has accepted the government's resignation and asked it to continue on a caretaker basis until the new government has been formed and the ministers appointed," read a statement issued by the office of incumbent President Tarja Halonen, who became the first women to hold the office when elected in 2000.

Mari Kiviniemi (Source: ksml.fi)Ms Kiviniemi, left, who was voted the new head of outgoing PM Mr Vanhanen's Keskusta Centre Party last weekend, previously served in Mr Vanhanen’s government as the public administration and local government minister.

She was first elected to parliament in 1995 and has since served as minister for foreign trade and development in 2005-2006 before taking up her current post in April the following year.

Mr Vanhanen, who served as Prime Minister since 2003, said last December he was ready to end his second term early due to a leg operation, but Finnish political commentators believe that the decision to stand down is tactical and will allow his party a ‘cleaner standing’ in the run-up to next year’s elections following a ‘scandal-tainted’ tenure.

Ms Kiviniemi is expected to serve as PM until the next parliamentary elections in April 2011 at the helm of the country’s four-party, centre-right coalition. But the country's opposition parties issued a joint call for early elections saying a change of premier was not enough in the current economic climate.

"The problems cannot be genuinely addressed with a completely out-of-date programme and a more than three-year-old mandate," the Social Democrats said in a statement on behalf of all opposition groups.

"Instead the risk is that the next nine months will be spent pushing forward necessary decisions and waiting for elections," they said.



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