Former prime minister Stubb wins first round of presidential vote

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Finnish former prime minister and candidate of the National Coalition Party NCP Alexander Stubb (R) and his wife Suzanne Innes-Stubb take the stage at an election reception in Helsinki, Finland, during the first round of the presidential election, on January 28, 2024. JUSSI NUKARI / AFP

With 99.8% of the votes counted on Sunday, January 28, 2024, Stubb won the first round of Finland’s presidential election with 27.2% of the votes, while Haavisto, an ex-foreign minister, took second place with 25.8%. Parliamentary Speaker Jussi Halla-aho came in third place with 19% followed by Bank of Finland governor Olli Rehn with 15.3%. The result will push the race into a runoff on February 11, 2024, between Stubb and Haavisto, 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 his supporters at an election party at a Helsinki restaurant, adding that he wasn’t planning major changes in his campaign for the second round of voting. The vote centered on the Nordic nation’s new role as a NATO front-line country with Russia, and the security situation in Europe. Finland’s new head of state will start a six-year term in March in a markedly different geopolitical and security situation in Europe than did incumbent Niinistö after the 2018 election.

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Stubb, 55, and Haavisto, 65, were the main contenders in the election. About 4.5 million eligible voters picked a successor out of nine candidates to replace hugely popular Finnish 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 2014-2015, while veteran politician Haavisto, an ex-U.N. diplomat and Green League member, is running for the post for the third time as an independent candidate.

Unlike in most European countries, the president of Finland holds executive power in formulating foreign and security policy, particularly when dealing with countries outside the European Union like the United States, Russia, and China. The president also acts as the supreme commander of the Finnish military, a particularly important duty in Europe’s current security environment.

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Le Monde with AP

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Publish date : 2024-01-28 03:00:00

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