Alexander Stubb (NCP) and Pekka Haavisto (Greens) shook hands following the release of the election results at Helsinki City Hall on Sunday, 11 February 2024. Stubb beat Haavisto by a margin of fewer than 99,000 votes to become the 13th president of the Republic of Finland. (Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)

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PRESIDENT-ELECT Alexander Stubb (NCP) lavished praise on Pekka Haavisto (Greens) after defeating him in what was the closest second round in the history of presidential elections in Finland.

“Finnish democracy won today,” he said, addressing the crowd at his election-night event in Helsinki before 11pm on Sunday. “I want to thank Pekka Haavisto and his team. It’s unbelievable that you can have this fair and honest elections.”

The president-elect also extended his gratitude to his campaign organisation and to his immediate family.

Stubb won 51.6 per cent and Haavisto 48.4 per cent of the votes cast in the second, run-off round of the presidential elections, with the two candidates ultimately separated by less than 99,000 votes. While Stubb won 52.8 per cent of the 2,015,577 votes cast in advance, Haavisto rallied on election day, winning 50.6 per cent of the 1,036,182 votes cast on Sunday.

Haavisto conceded defeat shortly before 9pm as the count began to indicate that he would not be able to make up enough ground in election-day votes.

Stubb made three promises in his victory speech: to “give his utmost, every single day” for the next six years, to always put national interests first, and to do his utmost to uphold peace in “this beloved country” in an era of insecurity.

“Why? Because I love this country,” he said.

He did not deliver his speech until after making a visit to the election-night event of Haavisto, as per an agreement the two candidates had made in the run-up to the elections. “I want to thank you Pekka. You’re one of the greatest people I’ve ever met,” he said.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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