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Round 2: February 5

January 25, 2012

Wow, I’m actually excited. The first round of the election on January 22 resulted in a surprise that not many people were expecting – a Green presidential candidate pulling enough votes to force a second round and trouncing the candidates that were expected to fare much better than they did. Who’d have thought it?

Reality: Finland will be voting for a president who doesn’t represent the political left for the first time in many years. The electorate will be splitting their votes between a liberal candidate (Pekka Haavisto, Green Party) and a conservative candidate (Sauli Niinistö, National Coalition Party). Here is a brief comparison of the two candidates*.

When the chips fall, the next president will relinquish ties with his political party (as is required) and party agendas will not be a part of the presidency. (This is a good thing.)

Some presidential election facts for you:

  • The president is elected to a term of six years by direct popular vote.
  • Direct popular vote has only been a reality in Finland since 1994.
  • If there is no clear winner in the first round of voting (= more than 50% of the votes) then there is a second round of voting a couple weeks later.
  • Finland does not have a vice president, so if the president is unable to perform his/her duties, the Prime Minister (or Deputy Prime Minister) steps in until things settle down.
  • Tarja Halonen is Finland’s first female head of state. She took office on March 1, 2000 and narrowly defeated Sauli Niinistö in the second round of elections in 2006 to win a second term in office.
  • There is also an official presidential website that will take on a different look in just a few weeks time.

In the end, while I’d like to see Pekka Haavisto win (because he is the underdog and I agree with more of his ideas than Niinistö’s), Finland will definitely not lose with Sauli Niinistö at the helm. Niinistö is experienced in political issues, is well-known in European circles and has no controversy surrounding him; though the media had a field day with him when he was engaged to Tanja Karpela (a former parliamentary minister and former Miss Finland)…

May the best man win!

*Don’t let Pekka Haavisto’s “lack” of education throw you off – the current Minister of Health and Social Services, Maria Guzenina-Richardson only has a high school education…

You can also follow the English-language commentary on several websites:

Helsingin Sanomat International
YLE News
Helsinki Times

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