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Sauli Niinistö becomes president as predicted - Embassy of Finland, London : News & Current Affairs

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News, 09/02/2012

Sauli Niinistö becomes president as predicted

Photo: Heikki Saukkomaa/LehtikuvaPresidential elections 2012, FinlandSauli Niinistö (National Coalition Party, left) and Pekka Haavisto (Green Party) converse as results roll in showing that Niinistö carried the vote and will become the next president of Finland.

Sauli Niinistö receives 62.6 percent of the second-round vote, becoming Finland’s next president, while Pekka Haavisto gets the remaining 37.4 percent. The results surprise no one, but this election is nonetheless groundbreaking in several respects.

Sauli Niinistö receives 62.6 percent of the second-round vote, becoming Finland’s next president, while Pekka Haavisto gets the remaining 37.4 percent. The results surprise no one, but this election is nonetheless groundbreaking in several respects.

Political pundits and the press have been predicting victory for moderate conservative Niinistö (National Coalition Party) for several years now – yes, years – so no one is shocked by the election results. Green Party candidate Haavisto, who never expected to ascend to the final round, formed the surprise in this contest, and can consider even second place a victory of sorts.

Haavisto, Finland’s first openly gay presidential candidate, seems to have activated large numbers of young, urban voters and others who are looking for a change. He split Helsinki evenly with Niinistö, garnering 49.8 percent against Niinistö’s 50.2.

In almost all of the rest of Finland, Niinistö held a clear majority. While some analysts call it a landslide, others note that he does not necessarily have the support of everyone who has the right to vote: Voter turnout languished at 68.9 percent. This would be considered good in many countries but remains well under the 72.7 percent who showed up for the first round two weeks earlier, and a far cry from the 77.2 percent who voted in the second round of the previous presidential elections in 2006, in which Niinistö lost to Tarja Halonen.

The nature of the new era

Experts speculate that many people, especially in rural areas, felt that they were left with no one to vote for. Paavo Väyrynen from the Centre Party, traditionally strong in the countryside, was knocked out of the race in the first round.

Also, Haavisto and Niinistö hold very similar viewpoints, making it difficult to choose between them. This made for an unusual second round that contained few make-or-break contrasts; the candidates did not personify juxtapositions such as Left–Right, urban–rural or pro-EU–anti-EU.

The Social Democrats, who have held the presidency for three decades, didn’t even come close this time. A new era begins with Niinistö’s inauguration on March 1, 2012. However, with revised rules that reduce the president’s powers and a new president who, despite the long campaign season and the convincing victory, has yet to define himself, the Finns are waiting to see what exactly the new era will bring.

Links:

Complete election results
Election info site produced by the Ministry of Justice

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Updated 09/02/2012


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