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Anneli Tuulikki Jäätteenmäki, Master of Laws (born February 11, 1955 in Lapuamarker) was the first female Prime Minister of Finlandmarker, in office from April 17, 2003 to June 24, 2003.

She worked as a lawyer from 1981 until 1987, when she was elected to the Finnish Parliament . Jäätteenmäki was Minister of Justice from 1994 to 1995. She was the leader of the Centre Party of Finland from June 18, 2000 to October 5, 2003, although the first year was as acting leader during Esko Aho's sabbatical leave to lecture at Harvard Universitymarker.

2003 parliamentary elections

After eight years in opposition, she led the Centre Party of Finland to a narrow victory over the formerly largest party, the Social Democratic Party of Finland, in the parliamentary elections of 2003. According to the new constitution, which was in effect for the first time after this election, she was thereby given the first opportunity to form a new Cabinet. After successful coalition negotiations with the Social Democrats and the Swedish People's Party, she came to head a coalition cabinet which chiefly continued on the lines of its predecessor, Paavo Lipponen's second Cabinet, but introduced new measures to stimulate the economy, including tax cuts.

During her brief time in office, Finland was the only country in the world to have women as both prime minister and president, a situation underlined by the fact that half of her cabinet were women, which however was quite in accordance with Finland's reputation as a country nurturing women's political contributions.

Anneli Jäätteenmäki's short term as Prime Minister of Finland is however not the shortest in the history of Finland. Beside caretaker cabinets and temporary prime ministers appointed due to the death or disease of the predecessor, Juho Heikki Vennola headed a Cabinet which only lasted for one month and a few days in February-March 1931, in connection with the Lapua Movement's vociferous anti-democratic demands for influence on the presidential election.

Resignation and criminal investigation

Anneli Jäätteenmäki resigned on June 18, 2003, under pressure resulting from the accusation that she had lied to Parliament and the public over how she had acquired confidential Foreign Ministry documents which she used for political purposes during the election campaign. The documents contained diplomatic information from a meeting between United States President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen about Finland's position regarding the Iraq war. Jäätteenmäki used the information to suggest that her rival, the Social Democrat leader Paavo Lipponen, had secretly offered Finnish support for the U.S.-led coalition, a substantial breach against the official policy of neutrality in Finland's foreign politics, and thus associated Finland with what many Finns considered an illegal war of aggression. Jäätteenmäki broke the traditional unity and silence behind Finland's security policies. As the elections turned out to be close, the defeated Social Democrats found reasons to suspect that her nontraditional campaign was decisive for the outcome, which soured the relationship between the two major coalition partners.

After the leaked documents were published in several newspapers in March, the police launched a criminal investigation based on the official secrets act. On June 11 Prime Minister Jäätteenmäki was heard as a witness by the police, which led to increasing pressure on her to come clean on her role in the leak. The same week, the incriminating minutes of a meeting of Centre Party leaders were leaked to the press, as later came clear, via the Centre Party second vice-chairman Hannu Takkula. On June 16 it came to light that a presidential aide, Martti Manninen, affiliated with the Centre Party, had leaked the Foreign Ministry documents. On June 18, Jäätteenmäki gave her "full explanation" to Parliament and apologised to the President, claiming that she had been faxed the documents without asking for them, and that she had not known of their secrecy. The Parliament was not satisfied with her account, and once Manninen on the same afternoon publicly claimed that Jäätteenmäki had specifically and forcefully asked for the information, and that he would be able to prove it, her coalition partners made it clear that they had no trust in her leadership. She resigned the same evening, citing the lack of political trust, and without admitting any wrongdoing.

Consequently she announced on June 24 that she would resign as leader of the Centre Party. Matti Vanhanen was elected as the new party leader on October 5 and he succeeded her as Prime Minister.

The police investigation into the leak concluded on December 19, 2003 that Mrs. Jäätteenmäki should be prosecuted for aiding or abetting Manninen in revealing state secrets in contravention of the law. However, on March 19, 2004 the Helsinki District Court acquitted Jäätteenmäki on all counts.

Current position

Jäätteenmäki currently serves as an MEP for the Centre Party in the European Parliamentmarker. In the 2004 European Parliament elections, she received over 140,000 votes, the highest individual tally and approximately 8% of all votes cast.

In April 2006, Anneli Jäätteenmäki announced to the Finnish media that she was going to take some time out of her parliamentary work due to breast cancer, but she returned to politics following her successful recovery. Despite offers to return to Finnish national politics, she declined to become a candidate in the Finnish Parliament elections in 2007 and instead intends to continue as an MEP until at least the end of her current term.

References

  1. {{cite web |url= http://www.eduskunta.fi/triphome/bin/hx5000.sh?{hnro}=189&{kieli}=su&{haku}=kaikki |title=Edustajamatrikkeli |publisher=Eduskunta}}


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