Finnish presidential election, 2018

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Finnish presidential election, 2018

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  Sauli Niinistö - 171106-D-GY869-041 (37501659204) (cropped).jpg Pekka Haavisto 2017 04.jpg Laura Huhtasaari.jpg
Nominee Sauli Niinistö Pekka Haavisto Laura Huhtasaari
Party Independent Green League Finns
Popular vote 1,875,342 371,254 207,337
Percentage 62.7% 12.4% 6.9%

President before election

Sauli Niinistö
National Coalition

Elected President

Sauli Niinistö
Independent

Presidential elections were held in Finland on 28 January 2018.[1] The incumbent Sauli Niinistö received 62.7% of the vote and was elected for a second term, avoiding a second round.[2] The term will be from 1 March 2018 to 1 March 2024. Although the President is elected by direct election, Niinistö gained a plurality in all municipalities and a majority in all but 13 municipalities.[3] The next most popular candidate and Niinistö's most popular competitor in the previous elections in 2012, Pekka Haavisto, received 12.4% of the vote.

Candidates[edit]

Confirmed candidates[edit]

Candidate name and age,
political party
Political office(s) Campaign logo Details
Tuula Haatainen (57)
Social Democrats
Tuula Haatainen Minister for Education
(2003–2005)
Minister for Social Affairs and Health
(2005–2007)
MP for Helsinki
(1996–2007, since 2015)
Haatainen was Minister for Education in the short-lived Jäätteenmäki Cabinet and retained her post in the subsequent Vanhanen I Cabinet. After that she was Minister for Social Affairs and Health from 2005 to 2007.
Pekka Haavisto (59)
Greens
Pekka Haavisto Minister for International Development
(2013–2014)
Minister of the Environment and Development
(1995–1999)
Chairman of the Green League
(1993–1995)
MP for Helsinki
(1987–1995, since 2007)
Haavisto ran in the 2012 presidential election and reached the second round of voting, but lost to Sauli Niinistö of the National Coalition Party. Prior to the campaign he had been an MP since 2007, and had worked for the United Nations from 1999 to 2005.
Laura Huhtasaari (38)
Finns
Laura Huhtasaari MP for Satakunta
(since 2015)
Logo of Laura Huhtasaari Huhtasaari was elected to the Parliament in 2015 with 9,259 votes, and was elected vice chair of the Finns Party in June 2017. In the Parliament, she also has been member of the Legal Affairs Committee, the Education and Culture Committee and the Finnish Delegation to the Nordic Council.
Merja Kyllönen (41)
Left Alliance
Merja Kyllönen Minister of Transport
(2011–2014)
MP for Oulu
(2007–2014)
MEP for Finland
(since 2014)
Logo of Merja Kyllönen Kyllönen served as Minister of Transport in the Katainen Cabinet from 2011 to 2014. She ran for the European Parliament in 2014 and was elected.
Sauli Niinistö (69)
Independent
Sauli Niinistö President of the Republic of Finland
(since 2012)
Speaker of the Parliament
(2007–2011)
Minister of Finance
(1996–2003)
Minister of Justice
(1995–1996)
Other offices
Logo of Sauli Niinistö The incumbent President of Finland ran as a member of the National Coalition Party in 2012 after narrowly losing in 2006. For 2018 he decided to run as an Independent to "test his support" among the public. He gathered 156,000 signatures and his candidacy was confirmed on 25 September.
Nils Torvalds (72)
Swedish People's
Nils Torvalds MEP for Finland
(since 2012)
Logo of Nils Torvalds Former member of the Communist Party of Finland, Torvalds worked at the Swedish-speaking department of the Finnish Broadcasting Company (Yle) from 1982 to 2004. He joined the Swedish People's Party of Finland in 2006 and was elected its third vice chairman in 2007. He ran for European Parliament in 2009 and wasn't elected, but he acceded to the position in 2012 after Carl Haglund resigned.
Matti Vanhanen (62)
Centre
Matti Vanhanen Prime Minister of Finland
(2003–2010)
Minister of Defence
(2003)
Former Prime Minister ran in 2006 and got 18,6% of the vote. He left politics after his tenure as Prime Minister, but returned in 2015 when he was re-elected as an MP.
Paavo Väyrynen (71)
Independent
Paavo Väyrynen MEP for Finland
(1995–2007, since 2014)
Minister for Foreign Trade and International Development
(2007–2011)
Minister for Foreign Affairs
(1977–1982, 1983–1987, 1991–1993)
Other offices
Logo of Paavo Väyrynen Veteran politician Väyrynen has run for President as a Centre Party candidate three times; in 1988, 1994, and 2012. He quit the Centre Party in 2016 and founded his own Citizens' Party.

National Coalition Party[edit]

The incumbent President Sauli Niinistö successfully sought another term as an independent candidate.

The incumbent President Sauli Niinistö was elected as the candidate of the National Coalition Party in the 2012 election. He was eligible for re-election and his decision for running again was closely followed throughout the latter half of his first term.[4] On 29 May 2017, Niinistö announced that he would seek support for his candidacy as an independent candidate outside party politics. To become an official candidate, Niinistö needed 20,000 signatures from his supporters.[5] Niinistö eventually gathered 156,000 signatures and his candidacy was confirmed on 25 September.[6]

Soon after Niinistö's announcement, the leader of the National Coalition Party Petteri Orpo tweeted that Niinistö has the party's full support.[7]

Centre Party[edit]

Former Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen was the Centre Party's candidate.

The Centre Party decided on 30 November 2015 that the party would choose their presidential candidate already in June 2016.[8] Soon after, former Prime Minister and Centre Party's presidential candidate in 2006 election, Matti Vanhanen, announced that he would run for candidacy.[9][10] Prime Minister Juha Sipilä declined his interest early on.[8] Other prominent names in speculations for the candidacy were the former Prime Ministers Esko Aho and Anneli Jäätteenmäki, and former Minister of Economic Affairs Olli Rehn.[11][12] Rehn declined the possibility stating that it wouldn't be possible to combine his duties as cabinet minister with campaigning.[13] Aho did not comment his interest in candidacy, but it was considered unlikely for him to seek presidential nomination, as he was a candidate for the Supervisory Board of Sberbank at the time.[14] Jäätteenmäki, an incumbent Vice President of the European Parliament, said running for President was "not on her agenda".[15]

As no challengers appeared till the deadline of 11 May, Vanhanen was the sole candidate in June's party congress and was confirmed as the Centre Party's candidate in the presidential election.[16][17] Vanhanen has said that his candidacy is motivated by the support he felt he had around the country during his last campaign and the will to improve the security situation in the areas surrounding Finland.[18]

Finns Party[edit]

Finns Party MP Laura Huhtasaari was nominated as the party's candidate.

The Finns Party is likely to confirm their candidate in summer 2017.[19] The leader of the Finns Party Timo Soini announced early on in November 2014 that he would not seek candidacy in the 2018 presidential election, after getting 3,43 % and 9,4 % of votes in 2006 and 2012 presidential elections respectively.[20] He reaffirmed his decision in April 2016, encouraging party to move on and inviting new faces to enter party's primaries.[21] As Soini had been a strong face for the Finns Party, his decision sparked much speculation on the party's decision, as party's presidential candidate was expected to also follow Soini as the chairman.[22]

In March 2017, Soini announced that he would not seek another term as the leader of the party. Soon after, the chairman of the parliamentary group Sampo Terho announced that he would seek chairmanship and, if elected, also presidential candidacy.[23] Member of the European Parliament Jussi Halla-aho, Minister of Defence Jussi Niinistö and Speaker of the Parliament Maria Lohela did also express their interest in candidacy, while Minister of Justice and Labor Jari Lindström declined early on.[22][24] However, only Halla-aho decided to also seek chairmanship in the leadership election.[25]

Choosing the presidential candidate for the party was on the agenda for party congress in June 2017. However, after Jussi Halla-aho won the leadership election, the decision was postponed by Halla-aho's request.[26] A few days after the leadership election, twenty Finns Party MPs, including all cabinet ministers, defected to form a new parliamentary group under the name New Alternative.[27] After the split, most of the potential presidential candidates had left the party. However, the newly elected vice-chairman Laura Huhtasaari and MP Tom Packalén announced that they were thinking about the candidacy.[28][29]

On 4 August 2017, Halla-aho announced that the board of the Finns Party had chosen Huhtasaari as the presidential candidate of the party,[30] and her candidacy was confirmed by the party council on 23 September.

Blue Reform[edit]

On 19 June 2017, Sampo Terho announced that a new party would be formed based on the New Alternative parliamentary group under the name Blue Reform.[31] The vice-chair of the Blue Reform parliamentary group Tiina Elovaara stated initially that the group was likely to have their own presidential candidate.[28] However, as the party was formed after the previous parliamentary election and thus has no elected MPs, it would have required to gather a sufficient amount of signatures to set an own candidate.[32] Thus, ultimately, the party decided not to put forth their own candidate and neither did it formally back any running candidate.[33]

Green League[edit]

The 2012 presidential candidate for Green League, Pekka Haavisto, reprised his candidacy.

The party 2012 presidential candidate, Pekka Haavisto, announced in February 2017 that he will reprise his candidacy.[34] The decision came after Haavisto had been approached multiple times by the Green Party.[35] Previously the party leader Ville Niinistö, President Niinistö's nephew, had stated that he would not seek the candidacy.[36] Haavisto was confirmed as the party's candidate on 12 February.[37]

Left Alliance[edit]

The Left Alliance chose MEP Merja Kyllönen as the party's candidate on 18 March 2017, after being the only one interested in running.[38] Former leader of the party Paavo Arhinmäki was also interested in running early on, but later decided to concentrate on running for the office of Mayor of Helsinki.[38]

Social Democratic Party[edit]

Social Democratic Party organised an informal membership poll in August 2017 for electing the party's presidential candidate, with three candidates entering the race, MPs Maarit Feldt-Ranta, Tuula Haatainen and Sirpa Paatero.[39] The final decision based on the membership poll was made on 2 September 2017, when it was revealed that Haatainen had received the most votes in the poll. Haatainen ultimately gained 48.6% of the votes against Feldt-Ranta's 42.3% and Paatero's 8.6%.[40]

Before Feldt-Ranta, Haatainen and Paatero entered the party primary, Social Democratic Party was struggling to find potential candidates, as most of the prominent politicians had declined the candidacy. From early on, there was speculation on two possible candidates, Eero Heinäluoma and Jutta Urpilainen.[12][41] In June 2016, Heinäluoma announced that he would not seek presidency due to his wife's recent death and ongoing work in the Parliament.[42] In February 2017, Urpilainen also announced she would not seek presidency.[43] The leader of the party Antti Rinne, the Governor of the Bank of Finland Erkki Liikanen and MEP Liisa Jaakonsaari likewise announced that they were not entering the presidential race.[44][45][46] There were also talks within SDP on supporting a candidate outside the party, such as archbishop Kari Mäkinen, if no candidate would be found from within.[47] Prominent SDP figureheads, such as Erkki Tuomioja and Lasse Lehtinen, even suggested the possibility of backing the incumbent president Sauli Niinistö.[48]

Swedish People's Party[edit]

The Swedish People's Party decided to choose their candidate in the party congress in June 2017. As no one else entered the party's primary on 11 June, Member of the European Parliament Nils Torvalds was nominated as the party candidate.[49] In Spring 2016, then leader of the party, Carl Haglund stated that he was thinking about candidacy, but renounced his leadership and left politics later that year.[50][51]

Christian Democrats[edit]

On 19 August 2017, the Christian Democrats decided to back the incumbent President Sauli Niinistö. It was previously speculated that the leader of the party and former presidential candidate Sari Essayah would run again.[52] However, after Essayah announced that she would not seek the candidacy, the party convention decided to back Niinistö.[53]

Väyrynen's candidacy[edit]

Former Center Party politician and three-time presidential candidate Paavo Väyrynen announced that he would run as an independent candidate if he managed to gather the 20,000 signatures required from his supporters in time.[54] By 26 November, he had gathered around 15,000 signatures.[55] On 5 December, he announced that he had gathered the needed 20,000 signatures.[56]

Campaign[edit]

Funding[edit]

The parties budgeted about as much for their campaigns than during the last presidential election in 2012. Ahead of the election, the campaign teams budgeted as follows: Niinistö 1,000,000–1,500,000 euros, Haatainen 550,000 euros, Haavisto and Vanhanen 500,000 euros, Torvalds 400,000 euros, Kyllönen 250,000 euros and Huhtasaari 200,000 euros.[57][58] Väyrynen didn't leave the notion ahead of the election, but reveled afterwards that his team had collected 162,000 euros for the campaign.[59]

After the election, Niinistö announced that the 300,000 euros that were reserved for the second round would be donated to the charity.[60]

Debates[edit]

The first presidential debate was organised on 30 October 2017 by the Finnish Business and Policy Forum at Finlandia Hall. All confirmed candidates took part, excluding Kyllönen, who was on a business trip. The event marks the earliest moment that the incumbent president has taken part in debates.[61] The debates continued at the University of Helsinki on 13 November, with Vanhanen being absent after being hospitalised for heart arrhythmia.[62] As Väyrynen became an official candidate only in early December, he was not invited to the first three debates and thus the first debate, that gathered all candidates together, was organised on 13 December 2017.[63]

2018 Finnish presidential election first-round debates
Date Organizers Moderators  P  Present  N  Not present Sources
Haatainen Haavisto Huhtasaari Kyllönen Niinistö Torvalds Vanhanen Väyrynen
30 October 2017
17:30
Finnish Business and Policy Forum (fi) (EVA)
ISTV
P P P N P P P N [64]
13 November 2017
17:00
ISTV
Paasikivi Society
UKK Society
UNA Finland
Timo Haapala P P P P P P N N [65]
27 November 2017
18:00
Maanpuolustuskurssiyhdistys Pauli Aalto-Setälä P P P P P P P N [66]
13 December 2017
20:00
MTV3 Jaakko Loikkanen
Juha Kaija
P P P P P P P P [67]
14 December 2017
21:05
Yle Jan Andersson
Seija Vaaherkumpu
P P P P P P P P [68]
10 January 2018
11:30
Kaleva
Yle
Hanne Kinnunen
Petri Laukka
P P P P P P P P [69]
12 January 2018
18:00
Aamulehti Sinikka Tuomi
Jussi Tuulensuu
P P P P P P P P [70]
21 January 2018
20:00
MTV3 Merja Ylä-Anttila
Jussi Kärki
P P P P P P P P [71]
22 January 2018
18:00
Iltalehti Susanne Päivärinta
Juha Ristamäki
P P P P P P P P [72]
22 January 2018
20:00
Yle Fem Ingemo Lindroos
Ville Hupa
P P P P P P P P [73]
23 January 2018
16:00
Helsingin Sanomat
Ilta-Sanomat
Marko Junkkari
Timo Haapala
P P P P P P P P [74]
25 January 2018
21:05
Yle Jan Andersson
Seija Vaaherkumpu
P P P P P P P P [75]

Fears of Russian involvement[edit]

In October 2017, the Security Committee of the Finnish Ministry of Defence released an assessment on the possibilities of Russian involvement in the presidential election. The assessment addressed nine possible scenarios, ranging from spreading false information through social media to a political assassination. The Security Committee also suggested ten possible objectives for Russian involvement, including obstructing discussion on NATO and isolating Finland from the European Union.[76]

Long-time Minister for Foreign Affairs Erkki Tuomioja heavily criticised the assessment and called it "pure fantasy resembling something from the pen of Ilkka Remes".[77]

Opinion polls[edit]

Verified candidates[edit]

Poll source Survey
dates
Sauli Niinistö Senate of Poland 2015.JPG Pekka Haavisto 2017 03.jpg Laura Huhtasaari.jpg Matti Vanhanen 2017 06.jpg Tuula Haatainen 2017 04.jpg MerjaKyllönenPresidentiksi2.jpg Nils Torvalds MEP, Strasbourg - Diliff.jpg Paavo Väyrynen 2017 03.jpg
Niinistö
Independent
Haavisto
Greens
Huhtasaari
Finns
Vanhanen
Centre
Haatainen
SDP
Kyllönen
Left
Torvalds
SFP
Väyrynen
Independent
Others Don't know
Kantar TNS 22–24 Jan 2018 58% 13% 5% 4% 5% 5% 3% 7%
Taloustutkimus 17–23 Jan 2018 63% 14% 6% 4% 2% 4% 2% 6%
Kantar TNS 8–17 Jan 2018 68% 11% 4% 3% 2% 3% 1% 8%
Tietoykkönen 9–16 Jan 2018 58% 14% 6% 5% 4% 4% 2% 7%
Taloustutkimus 27 Dec 2017–3 Jan 2018 72% 11% 5% 2% 3% 2% 1% 4%
Kantar TNS 4–16 Dec 2017 70% 11% 3% 2% 2% 2% 3% 6%
Tietoykkönen 23 Nov–3 Dec 2017 64% 12% 3% 3% 2% 3% 1% 2% 1% 8%
Taloustutkimus 20–28 Nov 2017 80% 10% 4% 2% 2% 1% 1% 1%
Kantar TNS 16–27 Oct 2017 67% 13% 3% 3% 2% 2% 1% 1% 8%
Tietoykkönen 10–11 Oct 2017 60% 10% 4% 2% 3% 3% 1% 2% 14%
Taloustutkimus 2–10 Oct 2017 76% 14% 3% 2% 1% 2% 1% 1%
Kantar TNS 4–14 Sep 2017 68% 13% 3% 2% 3% 2% 10%
Taloustutkimus 22–23 Aug 2017 60% 12% 4% 3% 2% 1% 2% 5% 9%
Tietoykkönen 30 May–1 Jun 2017 62% 11% 1% 1% 2% 1% 1% 9% 12%
Taloustutkimus Jun 2017 72% 12% 3% 2% 5% 5%
TNS Apr 2017 66% 19% 4% 3% 8%

Hypothetical polling[edit]

Poll source Survey
dates
Sauli Niinistö Senate of Poland 2015.JPG Tuula Haatainen 2017 04.jpg
Niinistö
Independent
Haatainen
SDP
Don't know
Taloustutkimus 17–23 Jan 2018 89% 11%
Kantar TNS 8–17 Jan 2018 80% 8% 12%
Tietoykkönen 9–16 Jan 2018 85% 15%
Taloustutkimus 27 Dec 2017–3 Jan 2018 92% 8%
Tietoykkönen 23 Nov–3 Dec 2017 91% 9%
Taloustutkimus 2–10 Oct 2017 94% 6%
Kantar TNS 4–14 Sep 2017 85% 6% 9%
Poll source Survey
dates
Sauli Niinistö Senate of Poland 2015.JPG Pekka Haavisto 2017 03.jpg
Niinistö
Independent
Haavisto
Greens
Don't know
Taloustutkimus 17–23 Jan 2018 80% 20%
Kantar TNS 8–17 Jan 2018 73% 14% 13%
Tietoykkönen 9–16 Jan 2018 75% 25%
Taloustutkimus 27 Dec 2017–3 Jan 2018 82% 18%
Tietoykkönen 23 Nov–3 Dec 2017 79% 21%
Taloustutkimus 20–28 Nov 2017 86% 14%
Taloustutkimus 2–10 Oct 2017 82% 18%
Kantar TNS 4–14 Sep 2017 77% 16% 7%
Taloustutkimus 22–23 Aug 2017 70% 22% 8%
Taloustutkimus May 2017 76% 19% 5%
Poll source Survey
dates
Sauli Niinistö Senate of Poland 2015.JPG Laura Huhtasaari.jpg
Niinistö
Independent
Huhtasaari
Finns
Don't know
Taloustutkimus 17–23 Jan 2018 90% 10%
Kantar TNS 8–17 Jan 2018 83% 6% 11%
Tietoykkönen 9–16 Jan 2018 90% 10%
Taloustutkimus 27 Dec 2017–3 Jan 2018 93% 7%
Tietoykkönen 23 Nov–3 Dec 2017 94% 6%
Taloustutkimus 20–28 Nov 2017 93% 7%
Taloustutkimus 2–10 Oct 2017 96% 4%
Kantar TNS 4–14 Sep 2017 87% 4% 9%
Taloustutkimus 22–23 Aug 2017 87% 7% 6%
Poll source Survey
dates
Sauli Niinistö Senate of Poland 2015.JPG MerjaKyllönenPresidentiksi2.jpg
Niinistö
Independent
Kyllönen
Left
Don't know
Taloustutkimus 17–23 Jan 2018 89% 11%
Tietoykkönen 9–16 Jan 2018 87% 13%
Taloustutkimus 27 Dec 2017–3 Jan 2018 93% 7%
Tietoykkönen 23 Nov–3 Dec 2017 90% 10%
Taloustutkimus 20–28 Nov 2017 93% 7%
Taloustutkimus 2–10 Oct 2017 96% 4%
Poll source Survey
dates
Sauli Niinistö Senate of Poland 2015.JPG Nils Torvalds MEP, Strasbourg - Diliff.jpg
Niinistö
Independent
Torvalds
SFP
Don't know
Taloustutkimus 17–23 Jan 2018 95% 5%
Tietoykkönen 9–16 Jan 2018 91% 9%
Taloustutkimus 27 Dec 2017–3 Jan 2018 97% 3%
Tietoykkönen 23 Nov–3 Dec 2017 94% 6%
Poll source Survey
dates
Sauli Niinistö Senate of Poland 2015.JPG Matti Vanhanen 2017 06.jpg
Niinistö
Independent
Vanhanen
Centre
Don't know
Taloustutkimus 17–23 Jan 2018 91% 9%
Kantar TNS 8–17 Jan 2018 81% 6% 12%
Tietoykkönen 9–16 Jan 2018 89% 11%
Taloustutkimus 27 Dec 2017–3 Jan 2018 95% 5%
Tietoykkönen 23 Nov–3 Dec 2017 93% 7%
Taloustutkimus 2–10 Oct 2017 96% 4%
Kantar TNS 4–14 Sep 2017 89% 3% 7%
Poll source Survey
dates
Sauli Niinistö Senate of Poland 2015.JPG Paavo Väyrynen 2017 03.jpg
Niinistö
Independent
Väyrynen
Independent
Don't know
Taloustutkimus 17–23 Jan 2018 89% 11%
Kantar TNS 8–17 Jan 2018 77% 12% 11%
Tietoykkönen 9–16 Jan 2018 85% 15%
Taloustutkimus 27 Dec 2017–3 Jan 2018 92% 8%

Results[edit]

Candidate Party Votes %
Sauli Niinistö Independent 1,875,342 62.6
Pekka Haavisto Green League 371,254 12.4
Laura Huhtasaari Finns Party 207,337 6.9
Paavo Väyrynen Independent 185,305 6.2
Matti Vanhanen Centre Party 122,383 4.1
Tuula Haatainen Social Democratic Party 97,294 3.2
Merja Kyllönen Left Alliance 89,977 3.0
Nils Torvalds Swedish People's Party 44,776 1.5
Invalid/blank votes 9,800
Total 3,002,710 100
Registered voters/turnout 4,498,004 66.8
Source: Ministry of Justice

References[edit]

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