Presidential candidates Alexander Stubb (NCP) and Pekka Haavisto (Greens) shared a laugh ahead of an election debate hosted by the Finnish Business and Policy Forum (Eva) in Helsinki on 31 October 2023. Stubb has emerged as the frontrunner in the race over the past month or so, according to recent polls by both YLE and Helsingin Sanomat. (Jussi Nukari – Lehtikuva)

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EX-PRIME MINISTER Alexander Stubb (NCP) has emerged as the candidate to beat in the race to become the next president of Finland, reveals a presidential poll commissioned by Helsingin Sanomat.

Stubb, the poll found, would receive 24 per cent of the vote in the first round of voting, representing a jump of seven percentage points from October. Ex-Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto (Greens) would come in second with a 20-per-cent share of the vote, a drop of eight points from the previous poll.

Sharing third place in the poll, with a vote share of 10 per cent, were Speaker of Parliament Jussi Halla-aho (PS) and Olli Rehn, the governor of the Bank of Finland.

Support for European Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen, who was confirmed as the candidate of the Social Democratic Party on Sunday, has jumped by four points to seven per cent, moving her to a tie with Li Andersson (LA), the chairperson of the Left Alliance. Mika Aaltola, who is on campaign leave from his post as the director of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, contrastively saw his popularity decline by three points to five per cent.

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

The poll results suggest that a second round of voting is likely necessary. Stubb would come out on top also in the run-off between the two most popular candidates in the first round, with a margin of 13 points over Haavisto and, at the other end of the scale, 50 points over Halla-aho. In October, Haavisto was projected to win 51 per cent of the vote in a run-off against Stubb.

Haavisto would face a formidable second-round challenge also from Rehn, with 50 per cent of the poll respondents choosing him and 47 per cent Rehn. A run-off against any of the other leading candidates, however, would end in a comfortable win for Haavisto.

Helsingin Sanomat identified two factors behind the swings in support for Haavisto and Stubb. Although Haavisto continues to poll well among supporters of the Left Alliance and Social Democrats, his popularity among the demographic has decreased since October. Stubb, on the other hand, has solidified his position as the leading candidate among supporters of the National Coalition.

Verian conducted 1,196 online interviews for the poll on 20–21 November. The poll results have a margin of error of up to 2.8 points.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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