Finland elects president in new geopolitical landscape

HELSINKI  -  Finns cast their ballots Sunday in presidential elections with two sea­soned politicians fac­ing off for the role that has gained importance in light of the country’s NATO membership and rising ten­sions with neighbouring Russia.

Some 4.3 million voters are choos­ing between former conservative prime minister Alexander Stubb and ex-foreign minister Pekka Haavisto, a Green Party MP running as an inde­pendent. In Helsinki, Erja Vanhanen, 59, was among the first to vote when polling stations opened at 0700 GMT.

She told AFP her choice was “a leader with values who is on the side of minorities and who takes a stand on these issues when necessary”.

The changing geopolitical land­scape in Europe will be the main con­cern for the new head of state, who, while having limited powers com­pared to the prime minister, leads the country’s foreign policy.

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