For decades, after the Second World War, Finland maintained a political neutrality, while the Cold War struggle between the West and the Soviet Union and its satellites raged.
After the onset of war in the Ukraine, the northern European country, that shares a 830-mile border with Russia, decided that it needed to align itself to the west.
Finland subsequently became a NATO member, in April 4th, 2023.
Now, in the run-up to its first election since its accession to the military alliance, the Finnish will decide what direction the country is to take moving forward.xxx
The two leading candidates represent the mainstream left and right-wings of Finnish politics, but the hard right candidate has risen in recent polls.
Voting began morning, with nine candidates trying to become the Nordic nation’s 13th president.
“The two leading contenders, Alex Stubb from the right-wing National Coalition Party and Green politician Pekka Haavisto, both have a wealth of foreign policy experience – an important qualification for the role which is largely ceremonial, but retains a constitutional lead on foreign affairs outside of the EU; with the office holder also commander-in-chief of the Finnish military.
Recent polls have put Stubb and Haavisto within a few percentage points of each other, and as close as 0.6% – and with neither candidate likely to get more than 50% in the first round, the top two will head to a second-round vote in February.
‘There definitely is a sense of excitement’, said Haavisto, who was campaigning in the capital region ahead of polling day.”
Unlike regrettable US elections that take forever to sort out (and rig), results in Finland are fast to come out.
Associated Press reported:
“Ex-Prime Minister Alexander Stubb was projected to win the first round of Finland’s presidential election on Sunday and face runner-up Pekka Haavisto in a runoff next month.
Finnish public broadcaster YLE projected that Stubb won the first round of the presidential election with 27.3% of the votes, while Haavisto, an ex-foreign minister, took second place with 25.8%. Parliamentary Speaker Jussi Halla-aho came in third place with 18.6%.
The projected result will push the race into a runoff on Feb. 11 between Stubb and Haavisto, because none of the candidates received more than half of the votes.”
Stubb represents the conservative National Coalition Party, He was Finnish Prime Minister in 2014-2015, while Green veteran politician Haavisto, an ex-U.N. diplomat, is running for the post for the third time as an independent candidate.
In Finland, the President formulates foreign and security policy, as well as act as the supreme commander of the military, – a relevant question in Europe’s current security environment.