Former Prime Minister Alexander Stubb wins Finnish presidential election, narrowly beating former diplomat Pekka Haavisto
Ex-Prime Minister Alexander Stubb won the second round of Finland’s presidential election on Sunday against former Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, in a tight race between two experienced politicians for the post of head of state, including the main task will be to lead the Nordic country’s foreign and security policy now that it is a NATO member, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
With more than 99% of votes counted, center-right candidate Alexansder Stubb, from the conservative National Coalition party, received 51.6% of the vote, while independent candidate Haavisto, from the green left, received 48%. .4% of the votes.
Mr Stubb, 55, who served as prime minister in 2014-15 and began his political career as a lawmaker in the European Parliament, will become Finland’s 13th president since the Nordic country gained independence from the empire Russian in 1917.
Polling stations closed at 8:00 p.m. (18:00 GMT).
Pekka Haavisto congratulates the new President
Mr Haavisto conceded defeat after a projection by Finnish public broadcaster YLE showing a victory for Mr Stubb was published after 9 p.m. He shook Mr. Stubb’s hand and congratulated him at Helsinki City Hall, where candidates and media were watching the results.
Mr Stubb and Mr Haavisto, 65, were the leading candidates in the election, in which more than 4 million voters chose a successor to the hugely popular President Sauli Niinistö, whose second six-year term expires in March. He was not eligible for re-election. Sunday’s second round was necessary because none of the nine candidates received more than half of the votes in the first round on January 28. Mr Stubb came in first with 27.3% of the vote, while Mr Haavisto came second with 25.8% of the vote.
Several polls indicated that Stubb, who also served as Finland’s minister of foreign affairs, finance and European affairs, was the favorite to win the presidency.
A declining participation rate
The initial turnout was 70.7%, significantly lower than the 75% recorded in the first round of voting.
During the election campaign, Stubb and Haavisto largely agreed on Finland’s foreign and security policy priorities. These include maintaining a hard line toward Moscow and Russia’s current leaders, strengthening security ties with Washington, and the need to help Ukraine both militarily and economically. civil. Finland shares a 1,340 km border with Russia.
Unlike most European countries, the President of Finland holds executive power in formulating foreign and security policy with the government, particularly in relation to countries outside the European Union such as the United States, Russia and China
Commander of the armies
The head of state also commands the army, which is particularly important in Europe’s current security environment and the new geopolitical situation of Finland, which joined NATO in April 2023 following Russia’s attack on Ukraine a year earlier.
The Finnish president is expected to stay above the fray of daily politics and largely stay away from internal political conflicts.
Mr. Haavisto was Finland’s top diplomat between 2019 and 2023 and the lead negotiator for Finland’s entry into NATO.
A former conflict mediator with the United Nations and passionate environmentalist, this is his third candidacy for the presidency, as an independent candidate.