Finland's flamboyant Stubb loses party leadership

AP News
Posted: Jun 11, 2016 9:40 AM

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Finland's flamboyant pro-EU Finance Minister Alexander Stubb, whose extrovert style failed to reverse the slumping popularity of his party, was ousted as its leader on Saturday.

Interior Minister Petteri Orpo became the new leader with 441 out of 804 votes at Saturday's conservative National Coalition Party congress. Stubb, head of the group since 2014, got 361 votes.

Stubb, who was prime minister in 2014-15, faced criticism for failing to lift the profile of a party that once was Finland's largest. In last year's elections, it finished third.

A leading daily rated the more low-key Orpo as the most capable minister in the center-right, three-party governing coalition.

He is expected to become finance minister after Stubb, a polyglot who seemingly was at ease abroad whose Twitter account has over 250,000 followers.

"Two years is a long time in life. It can also be the finest time in life," a visibly moved Stubb, an avid triathlon athlete who often posts photos and comments on social media, said after his defeat. "You should never ever become bitter in politics. You should be grateful for what you can do for their country. "

Speaking in Finnish, Swedish and English at the Kokoomus party congress, he turned to his wife Suzanne Innes and thanked her for supporting him "during those dark nights when I haven't been able to sleep and I started to cry because of the pressure."

Typical of Stubb who on Twitter describes himself as an "eternal optimist," he sent a tweet shortly after his loss to thank the party for having had him as chairman.