Greens must expand voter base, says new chairperson

The Green League must do its utmost to attract support also from outside hip urban neighbourhoods if it is intent on growing into a fully-fledged political movement, according to its newly-elected chairperson, Touko Aalto.

Aalto received 3,489 of the 5,778 votes cast in the fifth and final round of voting at the party conference of the Green League in Tampere on Saturday.

He admitted that his first term at the helm of the opposition party will be defined largely in the parliamentary elections to be held in 2019, but refrained from setting a specific target for the elections.

“I don’t have a specific number in mind. What I do have in mind is that together we’ll seek to draft a strategic vision for the upcoming elections. I think that’s a sensible way to go about it,” he stated after beating the other contender to make it into the final round of voting, Emma Kari, by a margin of 1,378 votes.

The Green League, he added, must nevertheless set its sights high for 2019.

“The Greens will have a prime minister by the end of the next decade,” he predicted according to Helsingin Sanomat. “The Greens can accomplish this by becoming a fully-fledged political movement. We must succeed in introducing the party’s crown jewels – questions related to the climate and nature conservation – as a feature of all other sectors of policy-making.”

Ville Niinistö, the now-former chairperson of the Green League, has repeatedly stated during the course of the spring that the Green League should seek to establish itself as the largest party in the Finnish Parliament in 2019.

Aalto also rejected the idea of forming a national electoral alliance with the Swedish People’s Party, an idea floated by Eva Biaudet (SFP). Biaudet pointed out earlier this month that combined the support ratings of the parties would suffice to nab the portfolio of the prime minister, according to a recent poll by YLE.

“The Green League is the Green League, and the SFP is the SFP,” replied Aalto. “Maybe in some places, in some electoral districts we could talk about an electoral alliance.”

Aalto emerged as a viable candidate to succeed the outgoing chairperson even before he announced his leadership bid at the end of April, after he had led the party to a historic win in the municipal elections in Jyväskylä on 9 April. The Green League won 19.9 per cent of the votes cast in the city – signalling an improvement of 8.8 percentage points from the previous elections – to become the largest political party on the Jyväskylä City Council.

He admitted that the results encouraged him to throw his hat into the leadership ring.

“Seeing how [our message] resonated and what we were able to accomplish as a team […] was definitely an encouragement in the sense that I started to feel that we’re on the right path and that we must expand this further,” said Aalto.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

Photo: Roni Rekomaa – Lehtikuva

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