Mari Kiviniemi, Prime Minister of Finland (since June 22, 2010)
Mari Johanna Kiviniemi (born September 27, 1968 in Seinäjoki, Finland) is a Finnish politician and the Prime Minister of Finland. She was elected as the Prime Minister in 22nd of June 2010. Kiviniemi has previously been the Minister of Public Administration and Local Government in the Council of State of Finland 2007-2010. Previously she was the Minister of Foreign Trade and Development (2005–2006).
Her political party is the Centre Party. In June 2010, she was elected chairwoman of the Centre Party.
Kiviniemi grew up in rural Southern Ostrobothnia, the daughter of a chicken farmer, and went to school in Jalasjärvi. As a teenager during high school, she spent a year as an exchange student in Germany. She enrolled in the University of Helsinki in 1988 to study economics and married Juha Mikael Louhivuori, a businessman, in 1996. They have two children, Hanna and Antti. In addition to her native Finnish, she speaks Swedish and English.
She lists her hobbies as listening to classical music (she plays the piano and flute), exercising through running, skiing and in-line roller blading. The family has a summer cottage on Lake Vanajavesi.
Kiviniemi is a career politician, and first ran as a candidate for Member of Parliament in 1991, garnering nearly 5,000 votes, while serving as the Secretary General of the Centre Party Student Union. The year after completing the work for her Master’s degree in Social Sciences, she ran again in the 1995 general elections, this time winning a seat from the Southern Ostrobothnia district with 9,350 votes.
Kiviniemi is also a member of the Helsinki city council, in addition to her work in national politics. She has been on the city council since 2005.
In 2003, Kiviniemi was elected to a leadership position within the Center Party, serving as vice-chairman (one of three) until June 2008, when she was voted-off at that summer’s party convention. She became a special advisor to Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen in 2004, and was twice appointed by him to serve as a Cabinet minister: first in September 2005 on a temporary basis when the incumbent went on maternity leave for six months; and then on a full-time basis in April 2007.
On 22 January 2010, one month after Prime Minister Vanhanen announced he would be stepping down as leader (chair) of the Center Party at its June 2010 convention, Kiviniemi announced her candidacy for the vacancy. Her campaign was formally launched in April.
Delegates to the Center Party Convention met in Lahti, Finland to elect a new leader on 12 June 2010. Kiviniemi won the second-round run-off, defeating Mauri Pekkarinen by a vote of 1,357 to 1,035. Prime Minister Vanhanen met with President Tarja Halonen on Friday 18 June and asked her for permission to resign as Prime Minister. Thus, Kiviniemi will become the Center Party chairman, and will most likely be the next Prime Minister of Finland if the Eduskunta votes for her, and will serve at least until Parliamentary elections are held on Sunday 17 April 2011.