Alexander Stubb (NCP) announced his presidential bid at a news conference in Helsinki on Wednesday, 16 August 2023. Presently a professor at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy, Stubb said he is worried more about the internal situation than the international standing of Finland. (Jussi Nukari – Lehtikuva)


EX-PRIME MINISTER Alexander Stubb on Wednesday confirmed his candidacy in the presidential elections held in Finland in January 2024.

Stubb indicated in a press conference that his decision was easy after being asked to throw his hat into the presidential ring by the leadership of the National Coalition. “In this global situation, the answer is unequivocal. When your home country calls, you go.”

Presently a professor at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy, Stubb said he will hopefully be able to lean on his experience in international relations if he wins the presidency. He added that he is not worried about the international situation or standing of Finland, which in his view is geo-strategically one of the most important countries in Europe and the West.

“Why? Because we’ve always taken care of our end. We – as Finland, as a nation – can always react to situations in an agile and resolute way,” he affirmed.

Finnish foreign policy, he estimated, has always been founded on both idealism and realism – an approach that is manifested in the country’s belief in international collaboration and decision to maintain one of the strongest defence forces on the continent.

Stubb revealed that he is more concerned about the internal situation in Finland.

“As the president of the republic, I’d want to look for more common denominators than divisive factors in Finnish society,” he stated, highlighting the importance of co-operation, common understanding and the ability to talk about difficult issues in an empathetic manner.

“I think we here are all responsible: the politicians, but also the media.”

He also drew attention to the need for citizens to engage in open, respectful and dignified debate. “I hope that in a polarised or fragmented world, Finland at least will stay united.”

His entry into the race was not without a comedic element, either.

Iltalehti accompanied its article about the presidential hopeful with photos of him posing on a park bench on which someone had written in marker, “Petteri Orpo made me do this”. Stubb assured to Helsingin Sanomat later that he is not responsible for the writing.

“I only noticed it now. You can’t make this shit up,” he texted the newspaper.

Orpo is the chairperson of the National Coalition.

Presidential field fills up

Sanna Marin, the outgoing chairperson of the Social Democrats, on Wednesday invited European Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen (SDP) to become the presidential candidate of the Social Democrats.

“Jutta, if you decide to become our candidate, I can promise that you’ll have behind you a united party that supports you in every way possible in the race,” she was quoted saying at the summer meeting of the Social Democratic Parliamentary Group by Helsingin Sanomat.

Urpilainen on Wednesday thanked Marin for the invitation and promised to announce her decision by November. She added that she would initiate discussions about how the possible candidacy could be combined with her role as commissioner in Brussels.

The presidential field has thereby been filled as far as the largest political parties are concerned.

The frontrunners in early polling are ex-Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto (Greens), Governor of the Bank of Finland Olli Rehn (Centre), Speaker of Parliament Jussi Halla-aho (PS) and Mika Aaltola, the director of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. Haavisto, Rehn and Aaltola are in the race on behalf of a constituency association rather than a political party.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT