HELSINKI Finland's economy minister Jan Vapaavuori will seek to become leader of his party, he said on Monday, a move that would enable him to take over as prime minister from Jyrki Katainen who plans to step down in June.
Members of Vapaavuori's conservative National Coalition party would back him as their leader, a recent poll by broadcaster MTV showed, making him the head of the five-party government until the next general election in April 2015.
Vapaavuori, 49, is expected to guide his party further towards the political right if he takes over from Katainen, who surprised Finns earlier this month by announcing he was stepping down in June with a view to taking a senior European Union post.
Other names mentioned as possible candidates to succeed Katainen were Petteri Orpo, the National Coalition party head in the parliament, and ministers Paula Risikko and Alexander Stubb.
The party will vote on the issue on June 14.
"We have lost plenty of jobs in the global (economic) transition, and the state has taken more debt... The country needs stability and responsible decisions," Vapaavuori said in a video posted on his website.
(Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)