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Finns go to the polls to elect a brand new president at an unprecedented time for the NATO newcomer

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HELSINKI — Voters in Finland had been electing a brand new president Sunday at an unprecedented time for the Nordic nation that’s now a NATO member with its jap border with Russia closed — two issues nearly unthinkable just a few years in the past.

Polls throughout the nation opened at 9 a.m. (0700 GMT) and can shut at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT).

Not like in most European international locations, the president of Finland holds govt energy in formulating overseas and safety coverage, notably when coping with international locations outdoors the European Union like america, Russia and China.

Some 4.5 million residents are eligible to vote for Finland’s new head of state from an array of 9 candidates — six males and three girls. They’re choosing a successor to vastly in style President Sauli Niinistö, whose second six-year time period expires in March. He’s not eligible for re-election.

No candidate is anticipated get greater than 50% of the vote in Sunday’s first spherical of voting, pushing the race right into a runoff in February.

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Latest polls recommend that former Prime Minister Alexander Stubb, 55, and ex-Overseas Minister Pekka Haavisto, 65, are the main contenders.

Stubb, who represents the conservative Nationwide Coalition Celebration and headed the Finnish authorities in 2014-2015, and veteran politician Haavisto, an ex-United Nations diplomat operating for the submit for the third time, are every estimated to garner 23%-27% of the votes.

Finland’s new head of state will begin a six-year time period in March in a markedly totally different geopolitical and safety scenario in Europe than did incumbent Niinistö after the 2018 election.

Abandoning a long time of navy non-alignment within the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Finland grew to become NATO’s thirty first member in April, a lot to the annoyance of President Vladimir Putin of Russia, which shares a 1,340-kilometer (832-mile) border with the Nordic nation.

NATO membership, which has made Finland the Western navy alliance’s front-line nation towards Russia, and the warfare raging in Ukraine a mere 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) away from Finland’s border have boosted the president’s standing as a safety coverage chief.

Advance vote outcomes will probably be confirmed quickly after polls shut and preliminary outcomes from Sunday’s voting are anticipated by round midnight (2200 GMT). The primary spherical outcomes will probably be formally confirmed on Tuesday.

The probably second spherical of voting between the 2 candidates with probably the most votes is ready for Feb. 11.

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