Former PM Stubb wins Finland presidential election

HELSINKI  -  Former conserva­tive prime minister Alexander Stubb won Sunday’s Finn­ish presidential election, assuming a role that has gained importance in light of the country’s NATO membership and rising ten­sions with neighbouring Russia. 

Some 4.3 million voters were choos­ing between Stubb and former foreign minister Pekka Haavisto, a Green Party MP running as an independent. “Well, Alexander. Congratulations to Finland’s 13th president,” Haavisto told Stubb on live television, as he con­ceded after broadcaster Yle projected that Stubb had won with 51.4 percent.

When all votes were counted, the final tally gave Stubb 51.6 per­cent of the vote. Stubb, who called the win “the greatest honour of my life,” will assume office on March 1. The changing geopolitical land­scape in Europe will be the main challenge for the new head of state, who -- while having limited powers compared to the prime minister -- guides the country’s foreign policy together with the government and acts as supreme commander of Fin­land’s armed forces. 

“It is absolutely incredible that a country the size of Finland can have such a fair and honest election in this security policy context,” Stubb declared in a victory speech to sup­porters. Relations between Moscow and Helsinki deteriorated following Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, prompting Finland to drop decades of military non-alignment and join NATO in April 2023. Russia, with whom Finland shares a 1,340-ki­lometre (830-mile) border, swiftly warned of “countermeasures”.

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