Presidential candidates Alexander Stubb (NCP) and Pekka Haavisto (Greens) attended an election-night event at Helsinki City Hall on Sunday, 28 January 2024. Stubb and Haavisto will face each other in a run-off election that will determine the successor to President Sauli Niinistö on Sunday, 11 February. (Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva)

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EITHER Pekka Haavisto (Greens) or Alexander Stubb (NCP) will become the next, 13th president of Finland.

Stubb received 27.2 per cent and Haavisto 25.8 per cent of the 3,241,864 votes cast in the first round of the presidential elections held in the country on Sunday, setting up a widely expected but possibly closer-than-expected run-off between the two candidates.

The gap between the two candidates moving on to the second round of voting has not been as narrow as this since 1994, according to an analysis by Helsingin Sanomat. The winner of the first round, though, has triumphed also in the second round in all elections under the current electoral system.

Jussi Halla-aho (PS) won 19.0 per cent and Olli Rehn (Centre) 15.3 per cent of the votes. Li Andersson (LA) and Jutta Urpilainen (SDP) received 4.9 and 4.3 per cent of the votes, respectively. Sari Essayah (CD) and Mika Aaltola both won 1.5 per cent, while Harry Harkimo 0.5 per cent of the votes.

Almost half, or 47 per cent, of people who exercised their right to vote in the first round will have to back another candidate in the second round, a share that marks a new high since the first round of the presidential elections of 1994, according to YLE.

The second round will be organised on Sunday, 11 February 2024.

Rehn was the most popular candidate in a total of 108 municipalities, the highest number among the presidential candidates. Stubb was the favourite in 84 municipalities, Halla-aho in 78 municipalities and Haavisto in 39 municipalities, including large cities such as Helsinki, Oulu, Tampere and Turku.

Nearly three-quarters, or 74.9 per cent, of people with the right to vote headed to polling stations in the first round, a new high since the second round of the presidential elections of 2006 – a battle between Tarja Halonen (SDP) and Sauli Niinistö (NCP). The first round of the presidential elections yielded a higher turnout in both 2000 (76.9%) and 1994 (82.2%).

By comparison, voter turnout in the parliamentary elections of last spring was 72.0 per cent and turnout in the previous municipal elections 55.1 per cent.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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