[QODLink]
Europe
Finnish presidential poll heads to runoff
Conservative front runner Sauli Niinistoe will face first openly gay presidential candidate in February vote.
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2012 02:04
Niinisto said if elected he would ensure government cutbacks were evenly distributed among the population [Reuters]

Pro-euro presidential candidate Sauli Niinisto has taken the lead in the first round of Finnish elections but will have to face Green League opponent Pekka Haavisto in February.

Preliminary results on Sunday showed voters in Finland preferred the former finance minister, giving him 36.9 per cent of the vote.

Centrist foreign minister Paavo Vayrynen, initailly expected to finish in second, was overtaken by Haavisto, who is estimated to have 18.7 per cent of votes cast. That puts Haavisto, the nation's first openly gay candidate, ahead of Vayrynen, who came in a surprising third with 17.6 per cent.

The remaining votes will be split among all the five remaining candidates from the remaining five parties of the parliament. All eight parties nominated a candidate in this year's election.

Niinisto's lead was expected as was his coming in under the majority needed to avoid a runoff in two weeks. What was unexpected based on pre-poll surveys, was that he would be facing off against the Green's Haavisto.

The 63-year-old Niinisto said if elected he would have a duty to ensure the government's expected belt-tightening measures will be evenly spread among the 5.3 million people in the Scandanavian nation.

Though membership in the eurozone has been central to this year's polls, relations with the 17-member body traditionally fall under the auspices of the prime minister not the president.

The victor of this year's polls will be the nation's twelfth since independnece from Russia in 1917.

Outgoing president, Tarja Halonen, the country's highly popular first female head of state, served two six-year terms in a nation where the president has a largely ceremonial role with little impact on day-to-day domestic politics.

 

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
Friends of Steven Sotloff, allegedly the second journalist shown in Islamic State beheading video, call for his release.
Cut off from bulk of Tunisia's economic development, residents of rural towns are creating their own opportunities.
Craft breweries see rising sales, challenging large corporations for a bigger taste of Mexico's $20bn beer market.
Frustration grows in Kiev as pledges to end corruption and abuse of power stagnate after Maidan Square protest.
Students kept from using screen-based technology for five days showed improvement in recognizing emotion, US study says.
join our mailing list