National Coalition presidential candidate Alexander Stubb kisses his wife after winning the preliminary vote on January 28, 2024.
Polling stations closed at 8 p.m. local time, and 44.5% of voters had voted early, according to public broadcaster Yle, suggesting a strong turnout.
Every vote is a relief and the fact that we got so many votes from the start is really a good thing, Alexander Stubb said on Yle shortly after the polls closed.
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Pekka Haavisto said he believes that Finland will remain a peaceful country and [that] it is important that we maintain stability here.
Since no candidate received 50% of the votes in the first round, a second round will be held on February 11.
Remaining neutral during the Cold War, Finland became the 31st member of NATO last year, to the great dismay of Russia, with whom it shares a 1,340 kilometer-long border. Relations between Finland and Russia have deteriorated considerably since February 2022 and the Russian offensive in Ukraine.
Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (left) handed over his country's NATO membership documents to the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in April 2023.
After Finland joins NATO in April 2023, Moscow promised countermeasures.
Finland has since faced an influx of migrants on its eastern border. Helsinki accused Moscow of orchestrating a migration crisis on its doorstep and closed its border with Russia in November, a measure supported by all the candidates.
Russia, and in particular Vladimir Putin, uses human beings as a weapon. In this case, we must put Finland's security first.
A quote from Alexander Stubb, presidential candidate, during the last televised debate on Thursday
For its main competitor, Pekka Haavisto, Helsinki had to send a message clear that this could not continue.
A member of the EU and the Eurozone, Finland prioritized the development of economic relations with its big neighbor after the Cold War in the hope that this would result in democratic development.
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Finnish Jussi Party candidate Halla-aho Halla-aho (right), former Finnish Foreign Minister and Green League (VIHR) candidate Pekka Haavisto (left) as well as former Finnish Prime Minister and Party candidate of the National Coalition (NCP) Alexander Stubb took part in a debate during the first round.
Outgoing President Sauli Niinistö, who is stepping down after reaching the limit of two six-year terms, had prided himself on having maintained close ties with Vladimir Putin before becoming one of the president's most virulent opponents Russian in Europe.
In this context, the presidential candidates all defend Finland's independence and its new role as a member of NATO, underlines Hanna Wass, vice-dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Helsinki.
[All candidates] emphasize Finland's self-sufficiency, namely that the country should ensure its defense independently and actively contribute to building a shared European defense and security. x27;Nordic cooperation.
A quote from Hanna Wass, Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Helsinki
The election will be more about the personality of the candidates, says Tuomas Forsberg, professor of foreign policy at the University of Tampere.
The differences come down to nuance in foreign policy, he said.
It will be more about electing a personality taking into account their credibility, reliability and perceived qualities as a foreign policy leader.
A quote from Tuomas Forsberg, professor of foreign policy at the University of Tampere
Conservative Alexander Stubb was the Prime Minister of Finland from 2014 to 2015. Pekka Haavisto has quant has held several ministerial positions.
They both have strong experience in domestic and foreign policy, which voters value, Ms. Wass said .
Their vision of the function is similar, but their personality differs, underlines Mr. Forsberg.
Alex [Stubb] is more a representative of the right and Haavisto of the left, even if Haavisto tried to point out that there is nothing red about him, that he had taken a middle lane as a green, according to Mr. Forsberg.