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Finnish FM Faces Party Leadership Challenge From Right Wing MP

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(Credit: Henrik Kettunen/Bloomberg/Getty Images) Alexander Stubb, Finland's finance minister, gestures whilst speaking during an interview in Helsinki, Finland, on Friday, Feb. 5, 2016. We should be looking for European solutions, not national solutions -- and by this I mean we need more integration, not less integration, Stubb said. Finland's Finance Minister Alexander Stubb Interview
April 5
8:53 AM 2016

Alexander Stubb, the Finnish Finance Minister, has been facing challenge for the party leadership following growing criticism for last couple of weeks. Elina Lepomäki, from right wing of ruling National Coalition Party (NCP), is planning to challenge his leadership during the upcoming party congress scheduled in June. She has vowed to be a leader who will towards the future with competence of a finance minister unlike many predecessors.

Lepomäki and other right wing members of the party have come heavily on Stubb for his failure in ensuring tougher labor market reforms in negotiations with trade unions. They have also accused the finance minister for making too many compromises in ruling center coalition, reports Reuters.

The Finnish governments intends to persuade the unions, cutting labor costs by 5%, aiming to make the country's economy more competitive following three years of recession. Challenger Lepomäki has joined the parliament in 2014 after serving 10 years in banking and finance, according to a report published in Business Insider.

Lepomäki's challenge appears following a letter of support for NCP chair Alexander Stubb, brought to public through media last week. The letter illustrates support from the party insiders and has created mixed reactions. Several party members including Lepomäki have protested the letter saying 'no support for Stubb', reports Yle News.

The backfired letter has raised questions about the support required to issue a public statement of support indicating deep divisions inside the party. However, NCP's parliamentary committee has expressed ignorance over issue of the letter before getting published.

Lepomäki has criticized Stubb, representing him as political science and international relations graduate, while considering as incompetent finance minister. She has claimed competency citing her qualifications in running the finance ministry. A party chair loosing his position in Finland, generally steps down from cabinet membership as well.

Meanwhile, Stubb has welcomed challenger Lepomäki. Other candidates vying for the designation are expected to join the race for the party leadership before summer. Support for Stubb to hold the party chair has been witnessed to drop to 47% from 69% a year ago.

Candidacy of Lepomäki is believed to encourage other candidates, like Jan Vapaavuori, to announce his own bid. Jan Vapaavuori is a vice president of the European Investment Bank and a former economy minister. He has lost to Stubb in a vote for party leadership in 2014 and is expected to repeat his challenge.

Elina Lepomäki, a right wing MP of National Coalition party has announced her candidature for the party chair designation during the party congress in June. Support for existing Finnish finance minister, Alexander Stubb, inside the ruling party has been witnessed to decrease by 22% compared to a year earlier. Following earlier precedence, Stubb may have to resign from cabinet membership if losses in leadership challenge. 

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