Finns went to the polls on Sunday to cast their ballots for president, and after a close race, former Prime Minister Alexander Stubb of the center-right National Coalition party narrowly ousted liberal Green Party member Pekka Haavisto.
Reuters reported that Stubb, the former prime minister, declared himself the winner in the run-off after obtaining 51.6% of the votes compared to 48.4% for Haavisto, after 99.7% of the votes were counted.
As president, Finland's new head of state will take charge of issues such as the country's security and foreign policy, as well as its attitude towards Russia, with which it shares a border.
Staub is pro-European and has strongly supported Ukraine while taking a hard line against Russia.
Presidential candidates in Finland are vying to shape the country's foreign and security policies with regard to Russia
The presidential winner said in televised statements that he considered his victory “the greatest honor” of his life.
“The feeling is quiet and humble, but of course at the same time, I am very happy and grateful that Finns voted in such large numbers and that I will be president of the Republic of Finland,” Stubb said.
Finland headed to a runoff in the presidential election after Staub won the first round with 27.2% of the vote, as was widely expected.
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The President of Finland has executive power to formulate foreign and security policy, while also commanding the military. The president keeps himself largely out of domestic politics.
Stapp is described as a liberal conservative, compared to Haavisto, an environmental activist with center-left views. However, both candidates have taken similar positions when it comes to foreign policy issues, including Russia and aid to Ukraine.
Haavisto congratulated his rival on Sunday, calling Stubbs “the 13th president of Finland.”
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“I think Finland now has a good president,” he said. “Alexander Stubb is an experienced and competent person for the job. No more gossip.”
The election results mark a new era for Finland, after decades of electing presidents who promoted diplomacy with Russia and chose not to participate in military alliances so they could calm tensions between NATO and Russia.
After Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, the country changed its position and joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in April 2023.
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Stubb will replace Sauli Niinistö, who will retire after two six-year terms.
Niinistö was nicknamed “Putin's whisperer” because of his close relationship with the Russian leader.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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