Finland’s Stubb on Track to Win Presidency as Rival Concedes

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(Bloomberg) — Finland’s Alexander Stubb was on track to become the country’s 13th president in a tight election, after projections showed Pekka Haavisto lacked votes to overtake him. 

Stubb had 51.4% support as 94% of the votes were counted, according to a projection by broadcaster YLE. Haavisto, who trailed with 48.6%, conceded defeat, congratulating Stubb.

The president will help steer the Nordic nation’s foreign and security policy into a new era as a member of NATO as concerns grow that neighboring Russia may directly confront the defense alliance.

The president will, over his six-year term, act as the country’s top diplomat and supreme commander for its defense forces, working in cooperation with the government to manage foreign relations. Domestically, the president’s powers are limited.

The mainly figurehead role has acquired more significance after Vladimir Putin’s all-out invasion of Ukraine in early 2022. Even as Finland joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization last year for added security, the task of steering its foreign and security policy is complicated by growing uncertainty over whether Moscow’s imperialist designs include the bloc’s territory.

Former Prime Minister Stubb, 55, went into the election as the favorite, having prevailed in the Jan. 28 first round and held onto his lead in the polls during the two weeks of campaigning. Haavisto, 65, is the previous foreign minister. Both represent continuity in foreign policy, with a focus on countering Russia, supporting Ukraine and integrating Finland into the defense alliance.

–With assistance from Philip Tabuas.

(Updates with results from first paragraph.)

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Published: 12 Feb 2024, 01:15 AM IST

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