Ex-PM Alexander Stubb wins Finnish presidency, narrowly defeating former high diplomat Pekka Haavisto

Nationwide Coalition Get together (NCP) Presidential candidate Alexander Stubb attends his election reception in Helsinki, Finland, on Feb. 11, 2024.

Lehtikuva | Through Reuters

Ex-Prime Minister Alexander Stubb received Finland’s presidential election runoff on Sunday in opposition to former Overseas Minister Pekka Haavisto in a detailed race between two skilled politicians for the put up of head of state, whose fundamental job will likely be to steer the Nordic nation’s international and safety coverage now that it’s a member of NATO, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

With over 99% of votes counted, center-right candidate Stubb of the conservative Nationwide Coalition Get together had obtained 51.6% of the votes, whereas impartial candidate Haavisto from the inexperienced left obtained 48.4% of the votes.

The 55-year-old Stubb, who was prime minister in 2014-2015 and began his political profession as a lawmaker on the European Parliament, will grow to be the thirteenth president of Finland for the reason that Nordic nation’s independence from the Russian empire in 1917.

Polls throughout the nation closed at 8 p.m. (18:00 GMT).

Haavisto conceded defeat after a projection by the Finnish public broadcaster YLE displaying a win for Stubb was launched after 9 p.m. He shook Stubb’s hand and congratulated him at Helsinki Metropolis Corridor, the place the candidates and the media had been watching the outcomes are available in.

Stubb and Haavisto, 65, had been the primary contenders within the election the place over 4 million eligible voters picked a successor to massively widespread President Sauli Niinistö, whose second six-year time period expires in March. He wasn’t eligible for reelection.

Sunday’s runoff was required as a result of not one of the authentic 9 candidates obtained greater than half of the votes in Jan. 28 first spherical. Stubb emerged on the high with 27.3%, with Haavisto the runner-up on 25.8%.

A number of polls indicated Stubb, who has additionally served as Finland’s international, finance and European affairs minister, was the favourite to win the presidency.

Preliminary voter turnout was 70.7%, markedly decrease than throughout the first voting spherical when it was 75%.

Through the election marketing campaign, Stubb and Haavisto largely agreed on Finland’s international coverage and safety priorities. These embody sustaining a tough line towards Moscow and Russia’s present management, strengthening safety ties with Washington, and the necessity to assist Ukraine each militarily and at a civilian degree. Finland shares a 1,340-kilometer (832-mile) border with Russia.

In contrast to in most European international locations, the president of Finland holds government energy in formulating international and safety coverage along with the federal government, particularly regarding international locations outdoors the European Union reminiscent of the US, Russia and China.

The top of state additionally instructions the navy — significantly necessary in Europe’s present safety atmosphere and the modified geopolitical scenario of Finland, which joined NATO in April 2023 within the aftermath of Russia’s assault on Ukraine a yr earlier.

The Finnish president is anticipated to stay above the fray of day-to-day politics and largely to remain out of home political disputes.

Haavisto was Finland’s high diplomat in 2019-2023 and the primary negotiator of its entry into NATO. A former battle mediator with the United Nations and a passionate environmentalist, this was his third bid for the presidency, working as an impartial candidate.

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