Finland Sends Ex-Leader to Runoff

Alexander Stubb will meet former foreign minister in race for president
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 28, 2024 3:50 PM CST
Finland Sends Ex-Leader to Runoff
Pre-voting votes for the presidential election are counted in Helsinki, Finland, on Sunday.   (Mikko Stig/Lehtikuva via AP)

Former Prime Minister Alexander Stubb won the first round of Finland's presidential election on Sunday and will face ex-Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto, the runner-up, in a runoff next month. The vote centered on the Nordic nation's new role as a NATO front-line country with Russia and the security situation in Europe, the AP reports. With 99.8% of the votes counted, Stubb won the first round of the presidential election with 27.2% of the votes, while Haavisto had 25.8%. Parliamentary Speaker Jussi Halla-aho came in third with 19%, followed by Bank of Finland governor Olli Rehn with 15.3%.

The first-round election result will be officially confirmed on Tuesday. The result will push the race into a runoff on Feb. 11 because none of the candidates received more than half of the votes. "Getting such a result together with the team is heartwarming. I am grateful and humbled by it," Stubb told reporters and supporters in an election party at a Helsinki restaurant, adding that he wasn't planning major changes in his campaign for the second round of voting. Stubb, 55, and Haavisto, 65, were the main contenders all along. About 4.5 million eligible voters picked a successor out of nine candidates to replace hugely popular President Sauli Niinistö, whose second six-year term expires in March. He wasn't eligible for reelection. Initial voter turnout was 74.9%.

Stubb represents the conservative National Coalition Party and headed the Finnish government in 2014-15, while veteran politician Haavisto, an ex-UN diplomat and Green League member, is running for the post for the third time as an independent candidate. Unlike in most European countries, per the AP, the president of Finland holds executive power in formulating foreign and security policy, particularly when dealing with countries outside the European Union such as the US, Russia, and China. The president also acts as supreme commander of the Finnish military. The main themes of the election were foreign and security issues like Finland's recent addition to NATO, policies toward Russia, and continued help for Ukraine both militarily and with humanitarian assistance.

(More Finland stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.