There was no surprise. Alexander Stubb won the second round of the presidential elections in Finland. The former prime minister and candidate of the current government party, the liberal-conservative National Coalition, won 51.6 percent of the votes – according to the results announced by the Ministry of Justice after counting 99.9 percent of the votes.
The victory was decided by the votes of approximately 100,000 voters. 1.55 million Finns voted for Stubb, and 1.45 million Finns voted for Pekka Haavisto, a Green politician and former foreign minister.
“A new era is beginning,” Stubb said, commenting on the results. For the next 6 years Finland will remain “the best country in the world,” he declared. He drew attention to the issue of Finland’s security in the face of the attack Russia on Ukraine. During the campaign, I talked a lot about the war, but the president’s task is to “preserve peace,” he emphasized in the Yle TV election studio.
Finland’s “Three Security Locks”.
In the last decade, Stubb was one of the few Finnish politicians who advocated the country’s entry into the country FOR THIShowever, when he sat on the council of ministers in 2008-2015, including as head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and prime minister, only 20-25 percent of Finns supported membership in the Alliance.
– Congratulations, Alexander, you have become the 13th president of the Finnish republic – Haavisto, who was the head of Finnish diplomacy in the cabinet, said directly to the winner Sanny Marin, playing a large role in the country’s accession to NATO. 65-year-old Haavisto competed for the third time in elections presidential.
– Stubb is strong in foreign and security policy, and this is important in the case of the presidency – said the head of the Finnish government, Petteri Orpo. – His contacts are more valuable than gold – commented the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Elina Valtonen.
Now both the new president, prime minister, minister of foreign affairs and minister of national defense are associated with the same party, i.e. the liberal-conservative National Coalition (KOK) – noted Yle television experts.
Commentators also pointed out that during these elections there were no signs of Russian interference, but “they (Russians) will definitely want to test the new president.” – The firm stance of both candidates towards Russia was used in the East for propaganda purposes – commented the head of the center for counteracting hybrid threats in Helsinki (HybridCoE), Teija Tiilikainen.
– Finland has three security locks. Apart from NATO, it is primarily its own defense, and then a defense cooperation agreement with USA (DCA) – Stubb said, commenting on the latest statements Donald Trump on NATO and the waiver of military protection for those countries that are in arrears with defense payments.
– I see Finland at the core of NATO, and as a country we contribute to ensuring the security of the Alliance, Stubb said during a speech for foreign journalists in Helsinki.
The turnout in the second round was just over 70 percent (in the first round it was higher: 75 percent).
Finland is probably the only country in the world – commented in Yle – where a smaller proportion of citizens participate in the main election day. In this country, voting in general elections does not take place on just one day. In the second round, nearly 46 percent of voters took advantage of the opportunity to vote earlier, as part of early voting. For a week, you could vote at points located, among others: in libraries, cultural institutions and shopping malls.
Stubb will officially take over as president in early March. He will replace Sauli Niinisto (also from KOK), whose second term is coming to an end.
Alexander Stubb – silhouette
– I wouldn’t have entered the race for president if it weren’t for him Russia’s attack on Ukraine – assured 55-year-old Stubb in the pre-election program “The Whole Truth About Me”. – I would play golf with Trump and lose on purpose to get into his favor – he admitted during the election debate in Yele.
Stubb was one of the few leading Finnish politicians who, long before Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, supported Finland’s entry into NATO. However, on the occasion of these elections, he admitted that he “did not do much” when he was the country’s prime minister (2014-2015) and head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2008-2011) to change Finland’s policy towards Russia. When Stubb was on the council of ministers, only about 20-25 percent. Finns were in favor of NATO membership. Only in 2022, in the face of the Russian threat, this step was supported by 70-80 percent of citizens.
– The Baltic countries and Poland knew what was going on with Russia, they warned others. Finland did the right thing in some matters, but it also made some mistakes, and so did I, he explained. Russia’s invasion of Georgia “has changed the international order and is also a challenge for Finnish security policy,” he warned already in 2008.
In the following years – as the press scrupulously noted – Stubb held office “as if he did not believe” in his own, as it later turned out, prophetic words. Even after annexation of Crimea in 2014, he supported further energy and economic cooperation with Russia (including building a power plant together with the Russians and no opposition to the Nord Stream project).
Stubb – as the Finnish press has repeatedly assessed – was an “unfortunate prime minister”. It was because of his cooperation with Rosatom that his government fell when the Greens left the coalition.
In the Finnish media, Stubb is presented primarily as “a well-placed man who feels comfortable in international company.” For this “cosmopolitan liberal” – wrote “Iltalehti” – the presidency may, to put it bluntly, be a “prison sentence”.
A broad smile and radiating self-confidence – Stubb’s image was assessed. – Are you rich? – asked the MTV journalist. -I earn 18,000 euros a month and that’s quite enough, but my wife also works – answered Stubb with complete calm and with his hands in his pockets. In recent years, he served as professor and director of the European University Institute in Florence (EUI).
– Not everyone likes his style – arrogant, too relaxed. A personality that divides people – rated in Yle.
The media will never forget his “clowning” when, as the Prime Minister, he stood as a living dartboard in an amusement park in short shorts. Just like the iconic “sorry about that” apology when, as the Minister of Finance, he incorrectly calculated the percentages before discussing the issue of the securities register in parliament.
Stubb wants Finland to have a “tough guy” president. He is a sportsman himself. He has been known for years for his passion for endurance and long-distance sports: he regularly takes part in triathlon and has already completed marathons, including a personal record of 3:08:26. During the election campaign, he often went cross-country skiing around Helsinki and Espoo, where he lives in the luxurious seaside district of Westend.
“1+1+1” – this is the rule he promotes: during the day you need to find time “for an hour of reading, an hour of sports and only an hour for social media.” This refers to his previous iconic thought “8+8+8”. Before he became prime minister, he said that only eight hours were spent on work, and the rest of the day should be divided equally between sleep and free time. Anyone who flew to Helsinki with Finnair (before the flight was served by low-cost airlines) could become familiar with his philosophy by reading the national carrier’s in-flight magazine, in which he had his column.
“Szwedofin”, educated in the USA
Stubb was born in Helsinki on April 1, 1968. His first language is Swedish. – I am not a “Swede-Finish”, but I am bilingual and I grew up in a normal block of flats in Helsinki, in an apartment with a loan – he once said, refuting accusations of good and privileged origin, supposedly typical of the Swedish minority.
Stubb was educated in the USA (he had a sports scholarship for a golfer), as well as in Paris, Brussels and London. He speaks English, French, German and Italian. In addition to his national government and parliamentary functions, he was an MEP and deputy head of the European Investment Bank. He is married to lawyer Suzanne Innes-Stubb from Great Britain, who will be the first foreign lady for the first time in the country’s history. The Stubbs have two adult children.
Main photo source: PAP/EPA