Paavo Väyrynen

Paavo Matti Väyrynen (born 2 September 1946) is a Finnish politician and a member of the Finnish Parliament, representing the Seven Star Movement and formerly the Citizen's Party and Centre Party. Väyrynen has been a member of the Finnish Parliament previously from 1970 to 1995 and again from 2007 to 2011 and has held many ministerial portfolios. He has also been a Member of the European Parliament from 1995 to 2007, and again from 2014 to 2018.

Paavo Väyrynen

Member of the European Parliament
for Finland
In office
1 July 2014  11 June 2018
In office
1 January 1995  26 November 2007
Minister for Foreign Trade and International Development
In office
19 April 2007  22 June 2011
Prime MinisterMatti Vanhanen
Mari Kiviniemi
Preceded byPaula Lehtomäki
Succeeded byAlexander Stubb (Foreign Trade)
Heidi Hautala (International Development)
Minister of Foreign Affairs[1]
In office
26 April 1991  5 May 1993
Prime MinisterEsko Aho
Preceded byPertti Paasio
Succeeded byHeikki Haavisto
In office
6 May 1983  30 April 1987
Prime MinisterKalevi Sorsa
Preceded byPär Stenbäck
Succeeded byKalevi Sorsa
In office
15 May 1977  26 February 1982
Prime MinisterKalevi Sorsa
Mauno Koivisto
Preceded byKeijo Korhonen
Succeeded byPär Stenbäck
Deputy Prime Minister of Finland
In office
6 May 1983  29 April 1987
Prime MinisterKalevi Sorsa
Preceded byAhti Pekkala
Succeeded byKalevi Sorsa
Minister of Labour[2]
In office
26 September 1976  15 May 1977
Prime MinisterMartti Miettunen
Preceded byPaavo Aitio
Succeeded byArvo Aalto
Minister of Education
In office
30 November 1975  29 September 1976
Prime MinisterMartti Miettunen
Preceded byLauri Posti
Succeeded byMarjatta Väänänen
Member of the Finnish Parliament
Assumed office
18 June 2018
In office
19 March 1970  1 July 2014
Personal details
Paavo Matti Väyrynen

(1946-09-02) 2 September 1946
Keminmaa, Finland
Political partyCentre Party
Citizens' Party
Seven Star Movement
Spouse(s)Vuokko Tervonen (1968–present)
Alma materUniversity of Helsinki
Åbo Akademi University
WebsiteOfficial website

Väyrynen has been the Centre Party candidate for Finnish president three times – finishing second in 1988, third in 1994 and third in 2012. In 2018 he ran as an independent candidate finishing fourth.


Early life

Paavo Väyrynen was born in a farmer family in Keminmaa, southwest Lapland. After finishing his gymnasium he graduated in 1970 as a Bachelor of Social Sciences in the University of Helsinki. In Väyrynen's doctoral thesis in 1988, Finlands utrikespolitik – den nationella doktrinen och framtidens mänsklighetspolitik ("Foreign politics of Finland - the national doctrine and the politics of the future of mankind"), he made an assumption that the Soviet Union would prevail — an assumption which has ever since haunted him in the media.[3] In 1996, Väyrynen was granted docentship of International Relations in University of Lapland.

Early political career

Väyrynen skyrocketed to Finnish political sky very early. He was elected to the Finnish Parliament in 1970 elections. He was immediately chosen to work as a Secretary of Ahti Karjalainen's cabinet. The 25-year-old Väyrynen was elected as the Vice Chairman of the Finnish Centre Party in 1972 and only three years later he began his long ministerial career as the Minister of Education.

The new rising star managed to attain the popularity of President Kekkonen. He soon became one of Kekkonen's trustees and a fierce defender of his foreign policies.


Young chairman of the Centre Party

Paavo Väyrynen became one of the most influential Finnish politicians in 1980 when he was elected as the Chairman of Finnish Centre Party. The Väyrynen victory in 1980 party congress was remarkable also because his main opponent was a well known ex-Prime Minister of Finland Johannes Virolainen. The vote was tight, 1737 delegates of the Party Congress voted for Väyrynen and 1611 delegates supported Virolainen. President Kekkonen's support in the background was of decisive importance in Väyrynen's victory.[4]

The "Jalasmökki scandal" 1982 shadowed Väyrynen's career later in media. It occurred when only a few square metres' mobile cabin was found in the address in Keminmaa where Väyrynen officially resided. Väyrynen lived at the same time in Helsinki and used the cabin to get extra compensation from public funds.[5] Later the system of expense compansations for the members of the Parliament of Finland was made more favourable for MPs from distant electoral districts.

Just a year before 1983 Finnish parliamentary election the Centre Party merged with the Liberals, but this did not help the party prevent the rise of the populist Finnish Rural Party. Nevertheless, the Centre Party formed a government with the Social Democratic Party of Finland and Väyrynen became the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Opposition leader 1987-1991

After 1982 Finnish presidential election and the 1983 parliament election the Social Democrats had secured a hegemony in Finnish politics holding both the President and Prime Minister chairs. To destroy the hegemony Väyrynen made a secret agreement with the opposition forces (conservative National Coalition Party, the Christian League and Liberals) and Swedish People's Party of Finland before 1987 Finnish parliamentary election to form a new Centre-Right government after the elections if the coalition would gain a majority. But, at the same time the National Coalition party had played with two cards and made a similar agreement with the Social Democrats. Even though the Social Democrats lost a bit of their support in the elections, they remained the biggest party and formed a new government with the National Coalition Party. Väyrynen was now the main opposition figure in Finnish politics.

Challenger of President Koivisto

In 1988 Finnish presidential election Väyrynen was an obvious choice to be the presidential candidate of the main opposition party. On the first round he got 20.6% of the votes and challenged the incumbent President Koivisto. Nevertheless, the National Coalition candidate supported Koivisto, who was elected to his second term.

After the presidential elections Väyrynen's Centre Party was successful in Finnish municipality elections and gained 21.1% of the votes.

Resignation of the party chairmanship and 1991 elections

In 1990 Väyrynen decided to resign after being the party chairman for 10 years. Esko Aho was elected as a successor of Väyrynen. He led the Centre Party into a historic victory with 24.83% of the votes. Väyrynen got more votes than any other candidate in the whole country and was chosen - for the fourth time during his political career - as the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Paavo Väyrynen was critical to the active support given by the Danish Uffe Ellemann-Jensen and the Icelandic Jon Baldvin Hannibalsson to the Baltic states in their fight to regain independence. In 1992, however, Paavo Väyrynen together with 9 other Ministers of Foreign Affairs from the Baltic Sea area, and an EU commissioner founded the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) and the EuroFaculty, as Finland actively supported.[6]

Later former Estonian prime minister Edgar Savisaar criticised that Väyrynen as a minister of Foreign Affairs with the Social Democrat president Mauno Koivisto and conservative party leader Harri Holkeri were more of a hindrance than a help in Estonia's independence process.[7]

EU membership disappointment and 1994 election

During his ministry Finland submitted its application for EU membership. Nevertheless, the negotiations with the EU were a disappointment to Väyrynen. When the result of the negotiation was ready, Väyrynen declared that he would oppose Finnish EU membership.

With the new chairman of the party supporting EU membership Väyrynen decided to resign as a Minister. He challenged the new political line of the party by announcing his candidacy to 1994 presidential election. He beat his main opponents Keijo Korhonen and Eeva Kuuskoski in the Centre Party primary. After Väyrynen's victory both Kuuskoski and Korhonen decided to run as independent candidates in the elections.

Väyrynen finished third in the election and did not make it to the second round. He was highly disappointed with the result especially when the results of early voting were announced. The opinion polls released by the media just before the presidential elections' first round had shown low support for Väyrynen, although actually he was the second most popular candidate in early voting. On the official election day Väyrynen received a lot less support and he claimed that the media had manipulated the opinion polls to convince voters to believe that Väyrynen had no chance to advance to the second round. According to Väyrynen there was a "media game" against him. Later the phrase ("media game", mediapeli in Finnish) became a popular slogan in Finnish politics.

Opposition figure inside his own party

After the presidential elections Finland also held a referendum of the EU membership late 1994. The Centre Party was split in the issue by the party leaders supporting the membership and Väyrynen campaigning fiercely against it. The Party Congress decided to support the membership and Väyrynen became a prominent opposition figure inside his own party.

Member of the European Parliament

When Finland joined the European Union in 1995 the Finnish Parliament elected Väyrynen to the European Parliament. In the European Parliament election 1996 Väyrynen was the candidate with the most votes - 157,668 - in the entire Finland. In the European Parliament Väyrynen worked as the Vice Chairman of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group. As an MEP Väyrynen defended the European Union based on supranational principles and opposed the ideas of federal Europe.

In the European Parliament election 1999 Väyrynen was again the vote-puller of his party but this time with "only" 60,000 votes. In the European Parliament election 2004 Väyrynen was elected third time in row.

Return to Finnish politics

During his career in the European Parliament Väyrynen tried to get a comeback to the Finnish politics several times. His first unsuccessful attempt was in September 1999 when Väyrynen lost the primary election for President against Esko Aho.

The second attempt in 2002 ended in a painful defeat. Väyrynen was a candidate for the Centre Party chairmanship but received only 100 votes out of a few thousand delegates in the party congress. He had not lost only the support of the party leadership but also the support of ordinary Centre Party members.

Nevertheless, the ordinary voters had not forgotten Väyrynen. He participated in Finnish parliamentary election in 2003 and promised not to return to the European Parliament. In 2004 Väyrynen, tired of the lack of support by the Finnish political elite, was re-elected to the European Parliament.

In 2007 Väyrynen finally returned to the Finnish Parliament. In the election he was elected from Lapland to the Parliament but refused to receive the parliamentary seat without a minister's portfolio. As a surprise Matti Vanhanen, the new Prime Minister, offered him a position as the Minister of Foreign Trade and Development. As a minister Väyrynen found himself often in opposition to other members of the cabinet.

As a minister, he said that Finland should not have joined the eurozone.[8] In 2008, he labeled the Russia–Georgia War as a "Georgian attack" on "Russian peacekeepers" and ended his article with the statement that Finland should not discuss NATO membership because "it could create the impression that Finland is moving from cooperation to confrontation".[9][10]

In 2010 he run, once again, to the chairmanship of the Centre Party. The veteran politician suffered a heavy loss once again finishing only fourth in the vote. Väyrynen again blamed a "media game" for his loss.

Many Finns believed that Väyrynen's career was over when he lost his seat as a member of Finnish parliament in 2011 election. Väyrynen had changed from his stronghold electoral district of Lapland to the Uusimaa electoral district. Later he accused Timo Laaninen, the secretary general of the Centre Party for luring him to change the electoral district.

2012 presidential election

Soon after his loss in the 2011 parliamentary election, Väyrynen announced his willingness to participate in the upcoming presidential election. Väyrynen appeared to be the only one believing in his chances of winning the primary for the Centre Party. Nevertheless, the party suffering from a heavy loss in 2011 parliament election, saw no-one else interested in to run in the election, and as a result Väyrynen was again a presidential candidate. In the summer of 2011, the European sovereign debt crisis got worse and Väyrynen's predictions from 1990s looked surprisingly real.

Väyrynen had been polling third or second in opinion polls for the election after Sauli Niinistö. He was also accusing other candidates of hiding their positive attitude of possible Finnish membership in NATO. He has also suggested that Finland ought to readopt the Finnish markka alongside the euro.[11] Väyrynen was eliminated from the second round of the election (5 February), placing third on the first round (22 January) behind the Green League's Pekka Haavisto by a close margin of 1.3 percentage points (37,000 votes).[12]

After presidential election

Soon after the presidential election, Väyrynen announced his candidacy for the chairman's position in the party congress of the summer 2012. He was eliminated from the second round of the election, placing third on the first round behind Juha Sipilä and Tuomo Puumala.[13]

In 2014 European Parliament election Väyrynen was elected again to the European Parliament with 69,360 votes.[14] He also participated the Finnish parliamentary election in 2015, and was elected with 6,889 votes.[15] After the election, Väyrynen announced that he would continue his work in the European Parliament, but would return to the Finnish Parliament, if he is given a cabinet position.[16]

In July 2015, Väyrynen launched a citizens' initiative to organize a referendum on whether Finland should remain in the euro zone. Väyrynen argued that the decision to join euro was a mistake.[17]

Founding a new party

In January 2016, Väyrynen announced that he will leave all board positions in the Centre Party. He stated that he was no longer able to affect the decision making within the party and criticized Sipilä cabinet for its liberal politics.[18] Soon after, Väyrynen announced that he was founding a new party called Citizens' Party (Kansalaispuolue) and would represent it for rest of his term in the European Parliament.[19] The party managed to gather enough signatures from supporters and was qualified as a registered party in December 2016.[20] In 2017 Keminmaa Centre party's branch announced that Väyrynen has resigned from the party as he has founded new political party[21]

Väyrynen ran for the City Council of Helsinki during the 2017 municipal elections as an independent on the party list of the Christian Democrats.[22] He gained 1,026 votes and was elected.[23]

On 15 July 2017, Väyrynen announced that he is planning to run as an independent candidate in the 2018 presidential election, if he manages to gather the needed 20,000 signatures from his supporters in time. At the same time Väyrynen announced, that he had left the chairmanship of the Citizens' Party.[24] On 5 December, Väyrynen announced that he had gathered the needed signatures and his candidacy was soon confirmed by the Ministry of Justice.[25]

In the election, Väyrynen placed fourth with 6.2 percent of the votes, while Niinistö went on to secure his second term with a majority of votes. After the results were announced, Väyrynen commented that he was "extremely glad" for the results and said that he would take the seat in the Finnish Parliament, that he had put on hold after the 2015 election, during following spring.[26] On 1 February 2018, Väyrynen announced that he would challenge the incumbent chairman of the Centre Party Juha Sipilä in the next party convention in June,[27] and that he would return to Parliament after the convention.[28]

On 3 March 2018, Citizens' Party expelled Väyrynen from the party, due to his alleged misdeeds with the campaign funding during the presidential elections and determination to seek the chairmanship of the Center Party.[29] Väyrynen denied the allegations and instead started a court case against the activities of the board of the Citizens' Party. In April 2018, he left the party willingly to concentrate on the chairmanship election of the Center Party.[30] On 25 April 2018, Väyrynen however announced that he would step back from the chairmanship election and subsequently left the Center Party.[31]

On 12 June 2018, Väyrynen left the European Parliament in order to take the MP's seat that he had gained in the 2015 parliamentary elections. He went on to found a new parliamentary group for the Citizens' Party, although his status within the party was still unclear due to the ongoing court case.[32] On 28 June 2018, Väyrynen announced that due to the disagreements with the Citizens' Party, he had founded a new political movement called Seven Star Movement.[33] Later, Väyrynen formally changed the affiliation of his parliamentary group from Citizens' Party to the Seven Star Movement.[34]

Väyrynen took part in the 2019 parliamentary election as a candidate of the Seven Star Movement, but was not elected.[35] Weeks after the election, Väyrynen announced that he would leave the Seven Star Movement.[36] He still took part in the 2019 European Parliament election as a candidate of the party, but was not elected.[37]

Outside politics

Pohjantähti Folk High School and Pohjanranta

As an MEP Väyrynen organised Europe education for young people and adults. Later these lectures formed a base for a folk high school Pohjantähti in Lapland. Väyrynen bought with his wife an old retirement home in Keminmaa and renovated it into a school. Nevertheless, the Finnish Ministry of Education did not financially support the project of the ex-Minister of Education.

Väyrynen has opened on the same area also Pohjanranta farm, which hosts a youth home, a dance hall, a vineyard, a hostel and a church.

Books written by Väyrynen

  • Köyhän asialla (1971)
  • On muutoksen aika (1974)
  • Kansallisia kysymyksiä (1981)
  • Kansakunta. Ihmiskunta (1987)
  • Finlands utrikespolitik. Den nationella doktrinen och framtidens mänsklighetspolitik (1988)
  • Suomen ulkopolitiikka: Kansallinen doktriini ja tulevaisuuden ihmiskuntapolitiikka (1989)
  • Yhteinen tehtävämme. Kansanvaltaisen muutoksen strategia (1989)
  • On muutoksen aika 2. Tosiasioita ja haavekuvia Suomesta (1993)
  • On totuuden aika 1. Tosiasioita ja muistikuvia Urho Kekkosen Suomesta (1993)
  • On totuuden aika 2. Tosiasioita ja muistikuvia Mauno Koiviston Suomesta (1993)
  • On muutoksen aika 1. Tosiasioita ja haavekuvia tulevaisuudesta 1974 ja 1994 (1994)
  • Suomen puolueettomuus uudessa Euroopassa: Kansallinen doktriini ympäristön murroksessa (1996)
  • Paneurooppa ja uusidealismi: Tutkielma Richard Coudenhove-Kalergin filosofisista ja yhteiskunnallisista ajatuksista (1997)
  • Itsenäisen Suomen puolesta (1999)
  • Etiäisiä vai kaukoviisautta? Paavo Väyrysen puheita ja kirjoituksia 1999–2004 (2004)
  • Eemeli Väyrysen vuosisata (2010)
  • Huonomminkin olisi voinut käydä. Esseitä elämästä, politiikasta ja yrittämisestä (2011)
  • Eihän tässä näin pitänyt käydä (2015)
  • Kukahan nämäkin sotkut selvittää? (2016)
  • Suomen linja 2017 (2017)


  1. "Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland - Ministers of Foreign Affairs". Archived from the original on 2012-04-03. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  2. "Finnish Government - Ministers of Labor force". Archived from the original on 2018-04-14. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  3. "Miksi keskustan aurinko ei laskenut? Seppo Kääriäisen väitöskirjan mukaan se oli taitavien johtajien ja uutteran kenttäväen ansiota" (in Finnish). Helsingin Sanomat. December 1, 2002.
  4. Lukkariniemi, Visa (2010). Vaihtoehtona Väyrynen. Sitadelli Consulting. pp. 51–53. ISBN 978-952-92-7321-8.
  5. "Paavo Väyrysen oudot päivärahat" (in Finnish). April 23, 2007.
  6. Kristensen, Gustav N. 2010. Born into a Dream. EuroFaculty and the Council of the Baltic Sea States. Berliner Wissentshafts-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-8305-1769-6.
  7. "Former Estonian PM criticises Finnish leaders' actions during independence process". Helsingin Sanomat. January 18, 2005.
  8. "Väyrynen on Suomelle poliittinen riski" (in Finnish). Kauppalehti. May 4, 2009. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011.
  9. Väyrynen, Paavo (13 October 2011). "Ulkomaankauppa- ja kehitysministeri Paavo Väyrysen kirjoitus Helsingin Sanomissa 12. lokakuuta" (in Finnish). Ulkoasiainministeriö. Archived from the original on 28 October 2014.
  10. "Väyrynen ja Stubb - näkemykset ristiriidassa" (in Finnish). Uusi Suomi. October 12, 2011.
  11. "Väyrynen: Markka takaisin euron rinnalle" (in Finnish). Finnish Broadcasting Company. 3 December 2011. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
  12. "Koko maa" (in Finnish). Ministry of Justice. 22 January 2012. Archived from the original on 25 January 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
  13. "Juha Sipilä keskustan johtoon". Helsingin Sanomat. 9 June 2012. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  14. "Europarlamenttivaalit 2014: Valitut ehdokkaat". Ministry of Justice. 30 May 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  15. "Eduskuntavaalit 2015: Valitut ehdokkaat". Ministry of Justice. 22 April 2015. Archived from the original on 25 June 2016. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  16. "Väyrynen haluaa vapautusta eduskuntatyöstä". Yle. 22 April 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  17. "Former centrist leader suggests referendum on single currency". Shanghai Daily. 20 July 2015. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  18. "Väyrynen pettyi liberaaliin puoluejohtoon ja jättäytyy puolueen hallinnosta – "En aio puuttua puolueen asioihin"". Helsingin Sanomat. 25 January 2016. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  19. "Paavo Väyrynen perustaa uuden puolueen". Ilta-sanomat. 4 February 2016. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  20. "Väyrysen Kansalaispuolue pääsi puoluerekisteriin". Yle. 15 December 2016. Retrieved 17 December 2016.
  21. "Keminmaan keskusta tulkitsee: Väyrynen on eronnut keskustasta". Yle Uutiset.
  22. "Väyrynen lähtee ehdolle kuntavaaleihin Helsingissä". Yle Uutiset. 17 February 2017. Retrieved 18 February 2017.
  23. "Valitut: Helsinki". Ministry of Justice. 13 April 2017. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  24. "Paavo Väyrynen neljättä kertaa presidenttiehdokkaana – jos löytyy riittävästi kannatusta" (in Finnish). Yle. 15 July 2017. Retrieved 15 July 2017.
  25. "Keskustan jäsen Paavo Väyrynen sai kasaan presidenttiehdokkuuteen vaadittavat 20 000 kannattajakorttia – Vanhanen: "Hän on kilpailevan puolueen ehdokas"" (in Finnish). Helsingin Sanomat. 5 December 2017. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  26. "Väyrynen "äärimmäisen tyytyväinen" omaan tulokseensa – "Keväällä tulen ilahduttamaan Suomen kansaa sillä, että palaan eduskuntaan"" (in Finnish). Yle. 28 January 2018. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  27. "Paavo Väyrynen pyrkii keskustan puheenjohtajaksi – havittelee perussuomalaisten ja sinisten äänestäjiä keskustan taakse" (in Finnish). Helsingin Sanomat. 1 February 2018. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  28. "Paavo Väyrynen aikoo hakea keskustan puheenjohtajaksi" (in Finnish). Yle. 1 February 2018. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  29. "Kansalaispuolue ilmoittaa erottaneensa Paavo Väyrysen puolueesta" (in Finnish). Helsingin Sanoamt. 3 March 2018. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
  30. "Itseluottamusta uhkuva Väyrynen jättää kansalaispuolueen, tähtää yhä Sipilän tilalle – "Olen ollut kaksi kertaa nostamassa keskustaa kuilun partaalta"" (in Finnish). MTV3. 12 April 2018. Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  31. "Väyrynen eroaa keskustasta, luopuu kunniapuheenjohtajuudesta eikä tue eduskunnassa sote-uudistusta" (in Finnish). Yle. 25 April 2018. Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  32. "Paavo Väyrynen palasi eduskuntaan" (in Finnish). Yle. 12 June 2018. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
  33. "Paavo Väyrynen perusti taas uuden poliittisen liikkeen" (in Finnish). Yle. 28 June 2018. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  34. Ruokangas, Perttu (16 November 2018). "Väyrynen ei ehdolle EU-vaaleihin, eduskuntavaaliehdokkuus 'mahdollista'". Yle News (in Finnish). Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  35. Ruokangas, Perttu (14 April 2019). "Väyrynen putosi eduskunnasta" (in Finnish). Yle. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  36. Nalbantoglu, Minna (13 May 2019). "Paavo Väyrynen eroaa perustamastaan tähtiliikkeestä" (in Finnish). Helsingin Sanomat. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  37. Ikola, Vilma (26 May 2019). "Paavo Väyrysen äänisaalis jäi vaatimattomaksi" (in Finnish). Helsingin Sanomat. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
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