Finnish parliament elects Mari Kiviniemi Prime Minister



Finnish parliament elects Mari Kiviniemi Prime Minister Helsinki: Finland's parliament on Tuesday voted to make Mari Kiviniemi, 41, the Nordic country's second woman prime minister following the resignation last week of second-term premier Matti Vanhanen.

Kiviniemi, who was smiling and looked relaxed ahead of the ballot, received 115 votes in favour of her appointment while 56 of Finland's 200 parliamentarians voted against the motion in a session that was webcast live.

Outgoing Centre Party premier Vanhanen was among the first to congratulate her after the vote.

Although the election clears the way for Kiviniemi to take over as head of Finland's four-party, centre-right coalition government, President Tarja Halonen still needs to give her formal blessing to the change.

Halonen is scheduled to officially dissolve Vanhanen's government before appointing the new prime minister and her cabinet at a ceremony at 5:00 pm (1400 GMT).

Women will then hold the two top posts in Finland for only the second time in its history as Halonen continues her second presidential term.

Considered a capable, knowledgeable and serious politician, Kiviniemi will likely serve as prime minister until the next parliamentary elections, scheduled for April 2011, and the Centre Party hopes her scandal-free image will boost ratings and help it remain in power also beyond the vote.

PTI