Presidential candidates Jussi Halla-aho (left), Li Andersson, Alexander Stubb, Pekka Haavisto, Olli Rehn and Mika Aaltola attended a debate organised by CMI – Martti Ahtisaari Peace Foundation in Helsinki on Monday, 13 November 2023. Helsingin Sanomat’s presidential election compass shed light on the ideological differences between the candidates, revealing that half of them land close to the middle of both the left-to-right spectrum and the national-conservative-to-liberal-green spectrum. (Antti Aimo-Koivisto – Lehtikuva)


JUSSI HALLA-AHO (PS) stands out as the most national conservative and Li Andersson (LA) as the most leftist liberal green candidate in the race to succeed President Sauli Niinistö, reveals a presidential election compass produced by Helsingin Sanomat.

Halla-aho was the only of the eight main candidates to disagree with the statement that a higher degree of diversity and multiculturalism is good for Finland.

Andersson, meanwhile, was the only candidate to estimate that the interests of the environment should take precedence over job creation and economic growth in circumstances where the two clash.

The most right-leaning candidate is Harry Harkimo (MN). Harkimo in his responses to the newspaper expressed his opposition to tax hikes and support for reducing the ownership stakes of central and local governments in businesses.

Mika Aaltola, who is the only candidate without a background in politics, leans slightly to the left on the right-to-left spectrum and lands in the middle of the national-conservative-to-liberal-green spectrum, his answers reveal. Aaltola estimated, for example, that it would be preferable to raise taxes than cut public services and social security benefits.

“The president doesn’t meddle in day-to-day politics, but I’m a proponent of the Nordic welfare state. You have to provide encouragement to minorities and people in vulnerable positions, and defend everyone’s right to a dignified life,” he argued.

He also disagreed with the statement that the state should interfere more in the functioning of markets.

Aaltola is on campaign leave from his position as the director of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs.

Half of the presidential candidates landed close to the centre of the political compass. Sari Essayah (CD), Alexander Stubb (NCP) and Olli Rehn (Centre) are all leaning slightly to the right on the left—right axis. While Essayah cannot be described as either national conservative or liberal green, both Rehn and Stubb lean slightly toward the liberal-green end of the spectrum, the answers indicate.

Pekka Haavisto (Greens) is clearly a liberal-green politician and leans slightly to the left on the traditional left-to-right spectrum.

Haavisto agreed party with the statement that central and local governments should reduce their stakes in businesses but declined to comment on whether the environment should take precedence over job creation and economic growth in circumstances where the two clash.

Aaltola, Haavisto and Rehn are all the candidate of a constituency association, despite the latter two’s long-standing ties to the Green League and Centre Party, respectively.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT