Center-right Stubb leads Finland’s presidential election in early results | Election news

Ministry data show that Alexander Stubb of the National Coalition Party is leading in the runoff after 58.3 percent of the votes were counted.

Alexander Stubb of the center-right National Coalition Party leads the runoff in the Finnish presidential election with 52.7% of the vote. Support from previously cast ballotsData from the Ministry of Justice showed.

The data showed that Liberal Green Party member Pekka Haavisto came behind him with 47.3 percent after 58.3 percent of the votes were counted.

Finland elects a new head of state He will also be responsible for its security and foreign policy. The winner is expected to be known by 21:00 GMT on Sunday.

Stubb, former Prime Minister He won the first round on January 28 with 27.2 percent of the votes, ahead of Haavisto with 25.8 percent. He also led Haavisto in the polls, most recently by 6-8 percentage points.

“A very good start to the evening. This feels good right now, but there are still a lot of votes to be counted,” Stapp said after seeing the early results.

Haavisto remained optimistic. “We’re starting a little behind, but it’s still possible to catch up on Election Day votes,” he said.

The vote marks a new era in Finland, which for decades has elected presidents to promote diplomacy, especially with neighboring Russia, and has chosen not to join military alliances so it can calm tensions between Moscow and NATO.

But the Finns changed their minds about playing that role after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, in a rapid turnaround that led to the country joining NATO in April last year.

Now, under the security umbrella of the Western alliance, the new president will replace Sauli Niinisto, who is retiring after two six-year terms during which he earned the nickname “Putin’s whisperer” due to his previous close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Niinistö’s successor will have a central role in determining Finland’s policies in NATO, while taking the lead on overall foreign and security policy in close cooperation with the government and at the same time assuming the position of Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

Green Party-backed candidate for a non-partisan electoral assembly Pekka Haavisto speaks to reporters after casting his ballot in Helsinki, Finland, on February 11, 2024. REUTERS/Tom Little
Green Party-backed candidate for a non-partisan electoral assembly Pekka Haavisto speaks to reporters after casting his vote in Helsinki, Finland (Tom Little/Reuters)

No relations with Russia

Both candidates are pro-European and strong supporters of Ukraine, and have taken a hard line on Russia in their election campaigns.

Lori, a 36-year-old IT employee who voted in Helsinki, considered Russia to be the main task the new president will face.

Obviously we all know we’re in a tough spot these days given Russia, and the whole turmoil in the world today. “So I think this is the biggest threat and the biggest problem we have,” he told Reuters on Saturday, without naming his preferred candidate.

In an interview with Reuters last month, Stubb said there would be no Russian pillar in Finland’s foreign policy for the time being.

He said: “Politically, there will be no relations with the Russian president or with the Russian political leadership until they stop the war in Ukraine.”

Stubb supports deep NATO cooperation, such as allowing the transfer of nuclear weapons through Finnish territory and stationing some NATO forces permanently in Finland. But he does not support storing nuclear weapons in Finland.

“Sometimes, nuclear weapons are a guarantee of peace,” Staub said in Tuesday’s debate.

Russia threatened Finland with retaliation in response NATO membership A defense cooperation agreement was signed with the United States in December.

Haavisto, a former foreign minister who also served as a UN peace negotiator and is known as a human rights advocate, called for a more cautious approach.

He wants to maintain Finland’s ban on nuclear weapons on its territory, and considers the permanent deployment of NATO forces unnecessary in light of the current security situation.

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