Sari Essayah
Sari Essayah cropped.jpg
Leader of The Christian Democrats
In office
28 August 2015 – Incumbent
Preceded byPäivi Räsänen
Personal details
Born (1967-02-21) 21 February 1967 (age 55)
Haukivuori, Finland
Political partyChristian Democrats
Spouse(s)Robert Knapp

Sari Miriam Essayah (born 21 February 1967 in Haukivuori) is a Finnish retired race walker and a politician, former Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and Member of Parliament since 2015. She is the president of the Finnish Christian Democrats party. Her father is from Morocco.

During her sports career, Essayah competed mainly in 5 000 and 10 000 metres. In the latter, she won the World Championship in 1993 and the European Championship in 1994. She made seven national records, all of which are still standing.

In 2016, Essayah became a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), she has been a member of the Ethics Committee, Finnish Athletics Association since 2014.[1]


Essayah holds an M.Sc (Econ) in business administration and accounting from University of Vaasa.

Political career

After retiring from sports Essayah entered politics and represented the Christian Democrats in the Finnish parliament between 2003–2007 but failed to get reelected in the election of 2007. She served as the Christian Democrats' party secretary from 2007 to 2009. Essayah was elected to the European Parliament in 2009 but failed to be reelected in 2014 despite her 61 000 votes. This left the Finnish Christian Democrats without MEPs in the 2014 election.[2] In November 2011 she undertook godparenthood for Mikola Dziadok, Belarusian activist and political prisoner.[3][4]

Essayah was candidate in the 2012 Finnish presidential election. She came last with 2.47 percent of the votes.

In the 2015 parliamentary elections, Essayah was elected to represent a newly formed constituency of Savonia and Karelia with over 11 000 votes.[5] She was later chosen to be the vice speaker of the Christian Democrats' Parliamentary group. In August, she was chosen the new chair of her party after her predecessor, Päivi Räsänen, retired from the position after over ten years.[6] Sari Essayah was re-elected in Finnish parliament in 2019 elections and re-elected for a third term as the party chair in a party congress in August.

Other activities


Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
Representing  Finland
1987 World Championships Rome, Italy 19th 10 km 47:30
1989 Universiade Duisburg, West Germany 3rd 5000 m 21:34
1990 European Championships Split, Yugoslavia 5th 10 km 45:10
1991 World Race Walking Cup San Jose, United States 16th 10 km 46:20
Universiade Sheffield, England 1st 10 km 44:04
World Championships Tokyo, Japan 3rd 10 km 43:13
1992 Olympic Games Barcelona, Spain 4th 10 km 45:08
1993 World Race Walking Cup Monterrey, Mexico 2nd 10 km 45:18
World Championships Stuttgart, Germany 1st 10 km 42:59
1994 European Championships Helsinki, Finland 1st 10 km 42:37
1995 World Race Walking Cup Beijing, China 12th 10 km 44:21
World Championships Gothenburg, Sweden 4th 10 km 42:20
1996 Olympic Games Atlanta, United States 16th 10 km 45:02


  1. ^ "Sari Essayah". The International Olympic Committee. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  2. ^ Candidates, Yle site for EU elections 2014. May 26, 2014.
  3. ^ "Prisoner's Godparenthood: Sari Essayah adopts Mikolai Dziadok". Viasna Human Rights Centre. 2011-11-23. Retrieved 2021-09-07.
  4. ^ "Мікалай Дзядок: "Усіх не перасаджаеце!"" (in Belarusian). Radio Liberty. February 1, 2012. Retrieved March 25, 2020.
  5. ^ [1] Yle site for Parliamentary elections 2015. April 24, 2015.
  6. ^ "Sari Essayah kristillisdemokraattien puheenjohtajaksi". 28 August 2015.
  7. ^ Advisory Council Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA).

Party political offices Preceded byPäivi Räsänen Leader of the Christian Democrats 2015– Incumbent