The National Coalition’s Alexander Stubb attended his election-night event in Helsinki on Sunday, 11 February 2024. Stubb on Sunday beat Pekka Haavisto in what was an unprecedentedly close run-off to become the 13th president of Finland. (Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva)

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ALEXANDER STUBB (NCP) says his election as president is the greatest honour of his life.

Stubb on Sunday defeated Pekka Haavisto (Greens) in what was a historically close second round of the presidential elections, winning 51.6 per cent of the 3,051,759 votes cast in the run-off according to the preliminary vote count.

The margin between the two candidates was only 98,663 votes, about 5,000 less than in the run-off between Esko Aho (Centre) and Tarja Halonen (SDP) in 2000.

“I’m feeling calm, level-headed, humble, but at the same time tremendously happy and grateful that Finns voted in such high numbers and that I get to take on the responsibilities of the president of the republic,” Stubb commented to Helsingin Sanomat on Sunday.

“The president’s responsibilities are bigger than the person. It makes you humble.”

In an interview with YLE, Stubb outlined that the primary responsibility of the president is to uphold peace. He added to international journalists that he does not consider it possible to engage in “political dialogue” with Russian President Vladimir Putin for as long as Putin continues to prosecute his war of aggression in Ukraine.

“I don’t see any kind of communication with Putin or with the Russian political leadership in the near future,” he said.

“Of course, we all want to find a pathway towards peace, but it seems to me that that pathway happens only through the battlefield. At the moment, what we need to focus on is supporting Ukraine: give them money, ammunition, weapons and a road towards EU and Nato membership.”

While Stubb received 52.8 per cent of votes cast during the advance-voting period, Haavisto performed better on election day, winning 12,356 votes more than his rival.

Haavisto won the majority of votes in a number of large cities, including Helsinki (57.7%), Tampere (56.4%), Jyväskylä (55.5), Turku (55.3%), Oulu (51.9%) and Rovaniemi (51.0%), but he only came out on top in five of the 13 electoral districts in Finland: Åland (58.6%), Helsinki (57.7%), Central Finland (52.2%), Pirkanmaa (51.3%) and Lapland (50.8%).

Stubb, meanwhile, outperformed his rival in the electoral district of Vaasa (62.8%), Uusimaa (54.8%), Southeast Finland (54.0%), Häme (53.9%), Satakunta (53.%), Oulu (52.7%), Southwest Finland (51.5%) and Savo-Karelia (50.1%).

Voter turnout in the second round of the presidential elections declined more than four per cent from the first round, to 70.7 per cent.

Stubb will assume the office of the president on 1 March 2024.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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