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President Sauli Niinistö is heading into next year’s presidential elections as a clear front-runner, with YLE reporting that he would receive up to 80 per cent of the ballot if the elections were held today.
President Sauli Niinistö is heading into next year’s presidential elections as a clear front-runner, with YLE reporting that he would receive up to 80 per cent of the ballot if the elections were held today.

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö has seen his already high popularity grow over the first few weeks of his re-election campaign.

YLE on Thursday reported that the share of voters who would cast their vote for the incumbent president has crept up from 76 to 80 per cent since October. His challengers, on the other hand, have seen their popularity wane over the past couple of weeks.

Johanna Vuorelma, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki, states that voter support for the incumbent candidate is historically high.

“It’s definitely an unusual situation. The Social Democrats, for example, has always been a strong party when it comes to the presidency and yet we’re currently talking about a support of two per cent. And the Centre’s candidate has usually received about a half a million votes,” she says to YLE.

“I don’t know what they could do in a situation such as this.”

Finnish presidential elections have never been decided after the first round of voting. Niinistö is defying the odds also by gaining popularity as the incumbent candidate as the elections edge closer.

The poll indicates that the most likely runner-up in the presidential elections is Pekka Haavisto (Greens). Also he, however, has seen his popularity drop from 14 to 10 per cent and has even fallen behind the incumbent among supporters of the Green League. More than half (54%) of the opposition party’s supporters indicated that they would vote for Niinistö and two in five (40%) that they would vote for Haavisto.

None of the remaining five candidates are currently polling at over five per cent.

Laura Huhtasaari (PS) would receive four per cent, Tuula Haatainen (SDP) and Matti Vanhanen (Centre) each two per cent, and Merja Kyllönen (Left Alliance) and Nils Torvalds (SFP) each one per cent of the ballot, according to YLE.

Huhtasaari, in fact, is the only candidate who remains more popular than the incumbent among the supporters of her own party: she is projected to receive 56 per cent and Niinistö 33 per cent of votes cast by supporters of the Finns Party.

Taloustutkimus interviewed a total of 1,484 Finns for the opinion poll between 20 and 28 November. The poll has a margin of error of +/-1.9 percentage points.

The first round of voting in the presidential elections will take place on 28 January and the second round of voting, if necessary, on 11 February, 2018.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Antti Aimo-Koivisto – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi