Finland elects a new president
Around 4.4 million Finnish voters are voting for a new president today. The incumbent president, Social Democrat Tarja Halonen, has served the maximum two terms in office and must now stand down. The role of president is largely ceremonial, although they are involved in the Cabinet and foreign affairs.
There are eight candidates standing for the election. The front runner by a long way is Sauli Niinstö of the ruling National Coalition Party (KOK) who, in the latest opinion poll was on 32% of the vote. He is trailed by Pekka Haavisto of the Green League (VL) on 13% and Paavo Väyrynen of the Centre Party (KESK) with 11%.
Timo Soini of the True Finns (PS) who created such an upset in last year’s general election is on just 6%. The other candidates, Paavo Lipponen of the Social Democrat Party (SDP), Sari Essayah of the Christian Democrats (KD), Eva Biaudet of the Swedish People’s Party (SFP) and Paavo Arhinmäki of the Left Alliance are all on less than 5% of the vote.
Voters will be voting between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. local time across 2,500 polling stations with a second round slated for 5th February if no one candidate achieves a majority.