In Finland, Alexander Stubb wins the presidential election

Former conservative Prime Minister Alexander Stubb won the presidential election in Finland on Sunday February 11 against his rival, Pekka Haavisto, in a vote marked by tensions with neighboring Russia since the country joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

In Finland, Alexander Stubb wins the presidential election

Former conservative Prime Minister Alexander Stubb won the presidential election in Finland on Sunday February 11 against his rival, Pekka Haavisto, in a vote marked by tensions with neighboring Russia since the country joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

“Alexander, congratulations to the thirteenth president of Finland,” Pekka Haavisto, a member of the Greens but who was running as an independent, conceded on public television. Mr Stubb has 51.7% of the vote, after 98.3% of the ballots have been counted. During this second round, 70.7% of the approximately 4.3 million voters came to vote.

“The only thing I think about now is gratitude. This is a great victory for democracy in Finland, I am extremely proud of all Finns who voted,” Mr. Stubb reacted to the publication of the provisional results.

Endowed with limited powers compared to the Prime Minister, the head of state, elected for six years, directs the country's foreign policy in close cooperation with the government. He is also supreme commander of the armed forces. A notable role which has become even more important due to geopolitical developments in Europe and the entry into NATO of Finland, which shares 1,340 kilometers of border with Russia.

NATO membership

Neutral during the Cold War, the Nordic country ended three decades of military non-alignment after the invasion of Ukraine. It became a member of the Atlantic Alliance last year, much to the chagrin of Russia, which promised to respond with “countermeasures.”

At the end of August, Finland faced an influx of migrants on its eastern border, accusing Moscow of orchestrating a migration crisis on its doorstep. Helsinki closed its border with its neighbor in November, a measure supported by all the candidates in the election.

“The fact that [the country] has just joined NATO is of considerable importance”, because the way in which the Alliance will deploy in Finland “will largely be a task for the new president”, notes Theodora Helimaki , researcher in political science at the University of Helsinki.

Candidate of the National Coalition Party (center right), Alexander Stubb had already come first in the first round of the presidential election with 27.2% of the vote, ahead of the liberal Pekka Haavisto, member of the Green Party (25.8%). ). Both former foreign ministers, they share the same vision on the position to adopt towards Russia, with a strengthening of sanctions against Moscow.

In 2022, the outgoing president, Sauli Niinistö, elected in 2012 and reputed to be the current European leader to have spoken most regularly with Vladimir Putin, contacted him directly to announce the decision to join NATO . Since then, there has been radio silence and neither candidate expects a phone call from the Kremlin after the election.

The difference between the candidates, both liberals, comes down in particular to the question of the storage and transport of nuclear weapons in Finland. Mr. Haavisto does not want to allow them, although, as a member of NATO, the Nordic country must participate in exercises relating to the Alliance's nuclear policy. Mr. Stubb, for his part, considered that the country should not exclude “any part” of NATO’s nuclear deterrence policy.