NewsBattle for Finnish presidency heats up: Stubb and Haavisto to square off on February 11th

Battle for Finnish presidency heats up: Stubb and Haavisto to square off on February 11th

Candidates for the presidency of Finland: Alexander Stubb and Pekka Haavisto
Candidates for the presidency of Finland: Alexander Stubb and Pekka Haavisto
Images source: © EPA, PAP | MAURI RATILAINEN
5:16 AM EST, January 29, 2024

"We're moving forward, and we're grateful for the vote of confidence from the voters. This campaign will span for another two weeks," stated Elina Valtonen, the head of Finnish diplomacy. Currently, she's representing the liberal-conservative party National Coalition (KOK) in Stubb's campaign team, due to Prime Minister Petteri Orpo's illness.

Second Round for the Finnish Elections

Previously, Stubb has held the mantle of the KOK leader, headed the government from 2014-2015, and served as the Finnish foreign ministry from 2008-2011. Recently, he has been working as an academic lecturer. "We made it to the final, but the competition is just getting started," said Stubb, who's also a well-known sports enthusiast, particularly of endurance and long-distance disciplines.

"We have faith in Haavisto. We believe he can surpass Stubb in the second round," said Sofia Virta, the leader of The Greens. "His advantage lies in his experience in international politics and the ability to foster relationships. Pekka can communicate with anyone. Finns also trust his capability to ensure Finland's security," she added.

"We've garnered a good result. We've won over the major cities like Helsinki, Tampere, and Turku," Haavisto listed.

The Green politician is openly homosexual and he attended the election night event accompanied by his long-term spouse.

Additional Results from the Finnish Elections

Jussi Halla-aho, one of the leaders of the nationalist and anti-immigrant Finns party(PS), achieved the third-best result in the first round. The current Chairman of Parliament managed to collect nearly 19 percent of the votes. "This is the best result a PS politician has ever achieved in presidential elections," claimed Riikka Purra, the current PS party leader, deputy premier, and finance minister. "Voters would decide what to do next with these votes," she concluded.

"This is a special election," commented the election studio of Yle TV regarding the bid to elect Sauli Niinisto's successor. The outgoing president, completing his second six-year term, is highly trusted in the country, particularly regarding foreign policy and security matters.

Impressive Turnout

The voter turnout in the first round reached 74.9 percent. In the previous election, it was approximately five percentage points lower, back in 2018 when Niinisto won in the first round.

According to political scientists from the election studio of Yle TV, for the incoming president, the most significant priority would be to redefine policy regarding Russia. Niinisto has been actively pursuing an Eastern policy for years, seeking balance in relations between superpowers. Following Russia's attack on Ukraine, he guided Finland, assisted by the former FM Haavisto, through the rapid process of joining NATO.

This represents Haavisto's third run for presidency, having conceded defeat to Niinisto twice before.

No matter who wins the presidential elections - according to several media outlets - this would be the first time that a spouse from outside Finland would play a representative role alongside the president. Stubb's wife is a British native while Haavisto's partner hails from Ecuador.

The final round of votes is set for February 11th. Early forecasts for the second round suggests Stubb stands a greater chance of winning, with an anticipated ratio of 55 to 45.

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