HELSINKI, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- Independent presidential hopeful Paavo Vayrynen announced on Tuesday he had been able to collect 20,000 signatures in support of his candidacy via an election association.
Direct nomination of a presidential candidate is restricted to registered political parties in Finland. If someone runs outside the parties, the candidate needs 20,000 verifiable backers. The incumbent president Sauli Niinisto is running now as an election association candidate.
Vayrynen is a former foreign minister, former chairman of the Center Party and a former multiple presidential candidate. In recent years his political line has been divergent from his old party, even though he was elected as a centrist to both European parliament and the Finnish parliament in last elections.
He preferred being in the European parliament and did not take up his seat in Helsinki after the 2015 election.
Local commentators said the entry of Vayrynen may live up the presidential race. Vayrynen said on Tuesday the key concern was now "the development of the European Union towards a military alliance". He said both the government and president Niinisto are pursuing such a trend while he himself is opposed to it.
Vayrynen told national broadcaster Yle on Tuesday that "a jubilation of the power of the people" will begin shortly.
Commenting on the high support level of the incumbent president Niinisto, Vayrynen assured Niinisto will "face a return to normal circumstances". Latest polls have showed Niinisto could get 80 percent of the votes and be elected in the first round.
Vayrynen was a centrist candidate for president in 1988, 1994 and 2012. In the last presidential election in 2012, he came third in the first round. The final round was between Sauli Niinisto and Green candidate Pekka Haavisto.