Presidential candidates Alexander Stubb (NCP) and Pekka Haavisto (Greens) participated in an election debate hosted by YLE in Helsinki on Thursday, 1 February 2024. Helsingin Sanomat’s latest poll indicates that the gap between the two remaining candidates has closed, with Stubb now projected to win 54 per cent and Haavisto 46 per cent of the second-round votes. (Antti Aimo-Koivisto – Lehtikuva)

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ALEXANDER STUBB (NCP) remains the public favourite to succeed President Sauli Niinistö, reveals the latest opinion poll commissioned by Helsingin Sanomat.

Stubb, the poll found, would receive 54 per cent of votes if the second round of the presidential elections was held now, marking a decrease of three percentage points from the poll published by the newspaper on 30 January. Support for Pekka Haavisto (Greens) has contrastively crept up by three points to 46 per cent.

Stubb and Haavisto advanced to the second, run-off round of the elections after winning 27.2 and 25.8 per cent, respectively, of the first-round votes. The first round took place on Sunday, 28 January 2024.

Stubb is the candidate of the National Coalition, whereas Haavisto is the candidate of a constituency association but backed by the Green League.

Over three-quarters of the poll respondents revealed that they will certainly and 15 per cent that they will probably vote for the candidate they selected in the poll.

Stubb is noticeably more popular among men but less popular among women than his rival candidate. While Stubb and Haavisto both enjoy support across age groups, older respondents were more likely to express their support for the former than the latter. Stubb was more popular among executives, senior and junior managerial staff and pensioners, Haavisto among blue-collar workers and students.

Although Haavisto appears to have won over some of the voters whose first-round vote went to Olli Rehn (Centre), two-quarters of such voters continued to express their support for Stubb. Stubb is also the preferred candidate of those who originally voted for Jussi Halla-aho (PS), Sari Essayah (CD) or Mika Aaltola. Haavisto, in turn, received the bulk of support from voters whose first-round vote went to Li Andersson (LA) or Jutta Urpilainen (SDP).

Halla-aho won 19.0 per cent, Rehn 15.3 per cent, Andersson 4.9 per cent, Urpilainen 4.3 per cent, Essayah 1.5 per cent and Aaltola 1.5 per cent of votes cast in the first round.

Almost three-quarters, or 74 per cent, of the poll respondents stated that they have already voted or will certainly vote and 16 per cent that they will fairly certainly vote in the second round. Eight per cent contrastively indicated that they are unlikely to head to polling stations by Sunday, 11 February.

The contest between the two remaining candidates is even closer among certain voters, with 52 per cent backing Stubb and 48 per cent Haavisto.

The results could hinge on how many of the voters whose primary candidate failed to make it through the first round turn out in the second round. Sakari Nurmela, the research director of Verian, highlighted to Helsingin Sanomat that only 58 per cent of Halla-aho’s voters said they will definitely vote in the second round.

“You could think that how many end up voting could have an effect,” he said to the newspaper on Monday. “Right now it seems that if many of the unsure voters stay home, it could make the situation closer.”

Voter turnout for the first round stood at 75 per cent.

Verian collected a total of 1,154 responses for the poll from an online panel on 2–4 February. The results have a margin of error of up to 2.9 percentage points.

The advance-voting period in the second round of the presidential elections ends on Tuesday, 6 February 2024. The election day is Sunday, 11 February 2024.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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