Conservative Alexander Stubb was elected president

Former Conservative Prime Minister Alexander Stubb came first with 27.2% of the vote in the first round on 28 January.
Lehtikuva / Reuters

After polling stations closed at 8 p.m., provisional results showed the former conservative prime minister with 52.7% of the vote compared to 47.3% for his environmentalist rival Pekka Haavisto who conceded defeat.

Former conservative prime minister Alexander Stubb won a presidential election in Finland on Sunday against his rival Pekka Haavisto, which has been marked by tensions with neighboring Russia since the country’s accession to NATO. “Congratulations to Alexander, 13th President of Finland”Public television acknowledged Pekka Havisto, a former foreign minister and member of the Greens, but who was running as an independent.

After 98.3% of the ballots were counted, Alexander Stubb received 51.7% of the votes. 70.7% of the nearly 4.3 million voters turned out to vote in this second round. “The only thing I think about now is recognition. This is a big win for democracy in Finland, I am very proud of all the Finns who voted”Alexander Stubb reacted to the release of the provisional results.

Endowed with limited powers compared to the prime minister, the head of state, elected for six years, directs the country’s foreign policy in close cooperation with the government. He is also the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. A significant role that has become more important due to geopolitical developments in Europe and Finland’s entry into NATO, sharing a 1,340 kilometer border with Russia.

Neutral during the Cold War, the Nordic country ended three decades of military non-alignment after invading Ukraine. It became a member of the Atlantic Alliance last year, much to the dismay of Russia, which has vowed to respond. “Countermeasures”. In late August, Finland faced an influx of migrants on its eastern border, accusing Moscow of orchestrating a migrant crisis on its doorstep. Helsinki closed its border with its neighbor in November, a measure supported by all candidates.

Strengthen sanctions

“The fact that we have just joined NATO is significant” Because of the way it will be deployed in Finland ‘There will be a lot of work for the new president’, notes Theodora Halimäki, a political science researcher at the University of Helsinki. Alexander Stubb and Pekka Haavisto, both former foreign ministers, have similar views on the position to adopt towards Russia, along with strengthening sanctions against Moscow.

“The international political situation is very difficult for us right now and I think we really need a president who can work with different political parties and who can negotiate.”, 46-year-old doctor Marit Tarkiyanen, a voter, explained to AFP. In 2022, the outgoing president, Sauli Niinisto, elected in 2012 and reputed to be the current European leader who speaks most regularly with Vladimir Putin, contacted him directly to announce his decision to join NATO.

Since then, there has been radio silence and neither candidate expects a phone call from the Kremlin after the election. “I want (the next president) to be as good as his predecessor”, the capital’s resident judge, Joakim Björnström, 36 years old. The difference between the candidates, both liberals, comes down to the question of stockpiling and transporting nuclear weapons, particularly in Finland.

Pekka Havisto does not want to authorize them, although as a member of NATO, the Nordic country must participate in exercises related to the alliance’s nuclear policy. Alexander Stubb, for his part, believed that the country should not be excluded “no part” NATO’s nuclear deterrence policy.

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