THE FINNISH presidential election is shaping out to be a closely fought affair, suggests an opinion poll commissioned by YLE.
Pekka Haavisto (Greens) emerged as a clear public favourite in the poll section representing the first round of voting, winning 31 per cent of the vote – 12 percentage points more than the runner-up, Alexander Stubb (NCP).
“Haavisto is receiving support particularly from his own party, the Greens. But there’s a lot of support for him also from the Social Democrats, Left Alliance and Swedish People’s Party. Haavisto is the most popular candidate among supporters of all these four parties,” Tuomo Turja, the research director at Taloustutkimus, stated to YLE on 14 September.
Olli Rehn (Centre) was the choice of 11 per cent, Mika Aaltola 10 per cent, Jussi Halla-aho (PS) nine per cent, Li Andersson (LA) six per cent and Jutta Urpilainen (SDP) five per cent of the respondents in the section representing the first round.
Haavisto, Rehn and Aaltola are all running as the candidate of a constituency association. Rehn is thus far the only of the trio who has announced receiving the 20,000 statements of support required to officially launch the presidential bid, although Haavisto may also have met the requirement, according to Helsingin Sanomat.
The Swedish People’s Party decided not to nominate its own candidate for the elections in an attempt to make sure a liberal candidate makes it into the second round, which will be organised if no candidate receives half or more of valid votes in the first round. Haavisto would receive about half and Stubb a third of the first-round votes cast by supporters of the Swedish People’s Party, the polling data reveals.
“In the second round of the presidential election, Haavisto would beat all other opposing candidates clearly according to this poll, but the race against Stubb would be very close,” said Turja.
Haavisto received 45 per cent and Stubb 42 per cent of the vote in the poll section representing the run-off round. Supporters of the Finns Party and Centre Party found the choice particularly challenging, judging by the proportion of respondents who hesitated to state their preference.
Stubb’s popularity would broaden toward the right and centre of the political spectrum in the second round of voting, according to the poll. Over half of Centre supporters, for example, would support the former prime minister in a hypothetical run-off against Haavisto.
“It looks like Haavisto is a red cloth especially for the Finns Party. Out of Finns Party supporters, 69 per cent would perhaps somewhat surprisingly back Stubb, even though he isn’t exactly the ideal candidate for them,” said Turja.
“The challenge for Stubb is to force himself into the second round. After that, the setting changes quite significantly, and the contest against Haavisto would be very close according to this poll.”
Taloustutkimus received 1,507 responses for the poll on 8–11 September.
The first round of voting in the presidential elections will end on 28 January 2024. The possible second round is scheduled to take place on 11 February.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT