Alexander Stubb

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Alexander Stubb
Stubb in 2024
President of Finland
Assumed office
1 March 2024
Prime MinisterPetteri Orpo
Preceded bySauli Niinistö
Prime Minister of Finland
In office
24 June 2014 – 29 May 2015
PresidentSauli Niinistö
DeputyAntti Rinne
Preceded byJyrki Katainen
Succeeded byJuha Sipilä
Minister of Finance
In office
29 May 2015 – 22 June 2016
Prime MinisterJuha Sipilä
Preceded byAntti Rinne
Succeeded byPetteri Orpo
Leader of the National Coalition Party
In office
14 June 2014 – 11 June 2016
Preceded byJyrki Katainen
Succeeded byPetteri Orpo
Minister for European Affairs and Trade
In office
22 June 2011 – 24 June 2014
Prime MinisterJyrki Katainen
Preceded byAstrid Thors
Succeeded byLenita Toivakka
Minister for Foreign Affairs
In office
4 April 2008 – 22 June 2011
Prime MinisterMatti Vanhanen
Mari Kiviniemi
Preceded byIlkka Kanerva
Succeeded byErkki Tuomioja
Member of the Finnish Parliament
for Uusimaa
In office
20 April 2011 – 30 July 2017
Member of the European Parliament
for Finland
In office
20 July 2004 – 3 April 2008
Personal details
Born
Cai-Göran Alexander Stubb

(1968-04-01) 1 April 1968 (age 55)
Helsinki, Finland
Political partyNational Coalition Party
Spouse
(m. 1998)
Children2
RelativesGöran Stubb (father)
Kai Setälä (maternal grandfather)
EducationFurman University (BA)
Sorbonne University (GrDip)
College of Europe (MA)
London School of Economics (PhD)
WebsiteOfficial website
Military service
Allegiance Finland
Branch/serviceFinnish Army
RankLance Corporal

Cai-Göran Alexander Stubb (Finland Swedish pronunciation: [kai jœːran aleksˈandær stʉbː], born 1 April 1968) is a Finnish politician who has been the 13th president of Finland since 1 March 2024, having won the 2024 presidential election. He previously served as Prime Minister of Finland from 2014 to 2015.

Rising in politics as a researcher specialised in the affairs of the European Union, he was elected to the European Parliament in 2004 as a member of the National Coalition Party. In 2008, Stubb was appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs. In 2011, he was elected to the Finnish Parliament for the first time as an MP with the second-highest vote count in the election. He was then appointed Minister for European Affairs and Trade in the Cabinet of Jyrki Katainen.

When Katainen stepped down as Prime Minister and Chairman of the National Coalition Party in 2014, Stubb was elected as party chairman. He went on to form a five-party government coalition, and was officially appointed Prime Minister by President Sauli Niinistö on 24 June 2014. At the parliamentary election held in April 2015, Stubb's National Coalition Party lost its status as the largest party, coming in second in vote share and third in seats. After coalition negotiations between the winning Centre Party, Finns Party and National Coalition Party, Stubb was appointed Minister of Finance on 29 May 2015 by newly elected Prime Minister Juha Sipilä.

In 2016, Stubb's leadership was challenged from within the party by MP Elina Lepomäki and Interior Minister Petteri Orpo. On 11 June, Stubb lost the leadership to Orpo at the party conference. Resigning as Finance Minister, and declining further ministerial positions, Stubb resigned as a Member of Parliament in 2017 to accept appointment as vice-president of the European Investment Bank. After his term at the European Investment Bank ended in January 2020, he was chosen as the director and professor of the School of Transnational Governance at the European University Institute.

In August 2023, Stubb announced his decision to run in the 2024 Finnish presidential election. He finished first in the first round of voting on 28 January and won the run-off on 11 February, winning 51.6% of the votes against Pekka Haavisto. Stubb is the second Finland-Swedish president in the history of Finland after C. G. E. Mannerheim.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Stubb was born in Helsinki into a bilingual family; his father, Göran Stubb, was a native Swedish-speaker and his mother, Christel Stubb (née Setälä), was a native Finnish speaker. Stubb spoke both languages at home.[2] His father worked in the business of professional ice hockey; he was the CEO of the Finnish Ice Hockey Association from 1976 to 1983,[3] and also worked as the NHL Director of Euro Scouting.[4][5] Through his mother, he is descended from the Setälä family,[6] and his maternal grandfather was professor Kai Setälä.[7]

Stubb spent his childhood in Lehtisaari, Helsinki. He played ice hockey in HIFK until his teen years. He started playing golf when he was twelve years old and during high school played in the Finnish national golf team.[8] In 1986, Stubb graduated from Mainland High School in Daytona Beach, Florida, U.S., and, two years later, graduated from the Gymnasiet Lärkan in Helsinki, then completed his military service.

Stubb won a golf scholarship to Furman University in South Carolina, United States.[9] He was a member of the Finnish national golf team and intended to become a professional golfer after graduation, but studying with political scientist Brent Nelsen and other faculty caused him to quit golf after a year to focus on his studies.[10] Stubb graduated with a BA degree in political science from Furman University in 1993.

The following year he studied French and obtained a Diploma in French Language and Civilisation from the Sorbonne University, Paris, in 1994.[11] Stubb speaks five languages: Swedish, Finnish, English, French, and German.[12]

In 1995, Stubb graduated with an MA degree in political science (European affairs) from the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium. He then went on to pursue a doctorate at the London School of Economics and Political Science under the supervision of William Wallace, Baron Wallace of Saltaire, obtaining his PhD degree in international politics in June 1999. Wallace later said: "LSE has had a number of extremely bright Finnish students in recent years – but Alex was one of the most outstanding." Stubb's thesis was called Flexible Integration and the Amsterdam Treaty: negotiating differentiation in the 1996–97 IGC[13] and it dealt with the 1996–97 Intergovernmental Conference of the European Union.[14][15]

Early career[edit]

Between 1995 and 1997, Stubb was a researcher at the Finnish Foreign Office, and then at the Academy of Finland from 1997 to 1999. In 1997 he began to work also as a columnist.[16]

Alexander Stubb in 2004

From 1999 to 2001, Stubb was a researcher in Finland's representation in the European Union in Brussels, and a member of the Finnish government's delegation to the intergovernmental negotiations for the Treaty of Nice. In 2000, he became a lecturer at the College of Europe. Following the IGC's conclusion in 2001 he became an adviser to the President of the European Commission (then Romano Prodi) and a member of the Commission Task Force on the European Convention. In 2003 he returned to Finland's representation to the EU as a special expert and to the intergovernmental negotiations, this time for the European Constitution. When that ended in 2004, he stood for the National Coalition Party in the election to the European Parliament.[17][18]

Political career[edit]

European Parliament (2004–2008)[edit]

Stubb served as an MEP for Finland from 2004 to 2008. He was elected in 2004 with 115,225 votes (the second highest number of votes in Finland for that election) as a member of the National Coalition Party. As that party was a member of the EPP, he sat in the European People's Party-European Democrats group.[17] During this time he became one of the most well-known members of the Parliament.[19]

Stubb was a member of the Committee on Budgetary Control and a vice-president of the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection. He was a substitute member of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs and the Delegation to the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee (as of August 2007).[17]

In 2006, he wrote a report for the Parliament on the EU's interpretation costs, which was adopted by the Parliament. He called for greater awareness of the costs of translation, which he calculated as 511 million euros in 2005 for the Parliament, Commission and Council together. Despite the costs and the need for some changes, he underlined that multilingualism is one of the EU's main assets.[20]

Stubb was vice-president of European Parliament Intergroup on LGBT Rights.[21]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (2008–2011)[edit]

Alexander Stubb with Urmas Paet, Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs (at the time), in April 2008

On 1 April 2008, Stubb's 40th birthday, the Finnish government announced that Stubb would be appointed as its new Minister for Foreign Affairs following a scandal surrounding his predecessor, Ilkka Kanerva. Stubb was sworn in on 4 April.[22] The decision to appoint him was unanimous[23] and his seat in the European Parliament was taken up by Sirpa Pietikäinen, a former environment minister.[24]

On his appointment, Stubb was described as a competent politician[24] and a supporter of Finland's accession to NATO, stating that he does not understand Finland's non-alignment policy.

In July 2010, Stubb invited the head of Al-Jazeera Wadah Khanfar and former President Martti Ahtisaari to discuss about the role of media in conflict resolution.[25] In October 2010, Stubb visited the Middle East and discussed the Middle Eastern conflict with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In 2010, Stubb and Sweden's Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt proposed the European Institute of Peace. They developed a joint non-paper that was addressed to EU High Representative Catherine Ashton.[26] They referred to the limits of traditional diplomacy and emphasised the added value that capacities beyond those available to high-level decision-makers could have. At the same time, the idea of a European Institute of Peace gained increasing attention among members of the European Parliament (MEP) and was particularly supported by German MEP Franziska Brantner[27] and French MEP Alain Lamassoure.[28] The institute was founded in 2014.

In 2011 when Stubb was Foreign Minister, leaked diplomatic cables from the US embassy in Helsinki stated that Jori Arvonen, Senior Political Adviser to Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb, had predicted that the National Coalition Party would aspire to lead Finland to NATO during the next parliamentary term.[29]

Alexander Stubb with the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in April 2011

Stubb brought attention to issues of disabled people. In 2010 Stubb and Finnish sign language rapper Signmark – who had become the first deaf person to sign a recording contract with an international record company – worked together to organize Silent Shout event to support sign language speakers.[30] Stubb and Signmark also later collaborated for bringing attention to disabled people in international forums.[31][32]

Stubb does not believe the President of Finland needs to attend meetings of the European Council in addition to the Prime Minister.[23] Jyrki Katainen, the Finnish Finance Minister and chairman of National Coalition Party, supported Stubb stating he was surprising, courageous and that he "puts a smile on one's face".[24]

As the Foreign Minister of Finland, Stubb was the Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe from 5 April 2008 to 31 December 2008.[33] The Russo-Georgian War occurred during this period, and OSCE brokered an agreement to send military observers to the area.

In January 2011, Stubb and EU Foreign Commissioner Catherine Ashton worked together to help hundreds of beaten and imprisoned opposition activists in Belarus.[34][35]

During the 2011 Egyptian revolution, Stubb expressed hope that power in Egypt would be transferred to a democratically elected government as fast as possible and without violence.[36]

Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade (2011–2014)[edit]

Alexander Stubb with Commissioners Valdis Dombrovskis and Jyrki Katainen in March 2013

In 2011, Stubb stood for election to the Finnish Parliament for the first time and was elected MP. He was the second-most-popular candidate in the election, in which the National Coalition Party became the largest party. In the government negotiations the Foreign Affairs ministerial portfolio went to the Social Democrats. Stubb became Minister for Europe and Foreign Trade in Jyrki Katainen's cabinet.

During Euromaidan, Stubb argued that money should be used as a force for good in geo-political relations, stating: "As I have said before, money is the best peace mediator" [37] and "Money should be given the Nobel Peace Prize".[38] (As Prime Minister he would later change his stance after further escalation in Eastern Ukraine, describing EU's sanctions against Russia necessary.)[39] Stubb stated that the sanctions against Russia will not be removed until Russia has met the requirements set by the EU.[40]

Prime Minister (2014–2015)[edit]

Stubb in the EPP Summit in July 2014

When Jyrki Katainen stepped down as Prime Minister and Chairman of the National Coalition Party, Stubb was elected as party chairman in June 2014 over his two rivals, Paula Risikko and Jan Vapaavuori. He formed a five party government coalition, and was officially appointed Prime Minister by President Sauli Niinistö on 24 June. One of the challenges the new Prime Minister faced is the relationship between Finland and neighboring Russia. This has always been a difficult issue for Finland, as it affects Finland's willingness to become a NATO member. The recent crisis in Ukraine as well as the dispute over free trade between Russia and Finland has made the issue thornier.[41]

Stubb supported the proposal to implement basic income experiments in the country.[42] In November 2014, Stubb organized Northern Future Forum, a meeting of Prime Ministers of Northern Europe, in Startup Sauna in Aalto University campus.[43] In March 2015, Stubb invited companies and officials to an event to discuss industrial Internet and Internet of Things.[44]

In the election held in April 2015, Stubb's National Coalition Party lost its status as the largest party, coming in as second in vote share and third in seats. Coalition negotiations began on 8 May between the winning Center Party, Finns Party and National Coalition Party.[45] He resigned from the office days after the election and left office on 29 May 2015.

Minister of Finance (2015–2016)[edit]

Stubb and Pedro Passos Coelho in March 2016

Stubb was appointed Minister of Finance on 29 May 2015 by newly elected Prime Minister Juha Sipilä.[46] Stubb demanded "structural reforms, structural reforms and more structural reforms".[47] In November 2015, Stubb said at the Finnish Parliament that about 90 percent of the Finnish authoritatives supported introduction of administrative registration. However, it was revealed that in reality only about 10 percent of them supported it.[48]

Stubb's term as Minister of Finance drew criticism due to his perceived insensitivity towards the effects of the spending cuts he introduced, which affected the Finnish welfare state and public education system. An instance of Stubb and Sipilä bumping fists after the end of a conference that announced a deal between Finnish trade unions and the Confederation of Finnish Industries was interpreted as a sign of mockery towards the trade unions.[49][50]

In November and December 2015, Stubb was in the middle of a scandal when he was accused of lying to the Finnish Parliament consistently and deliberately. In November, Stubb had said to Parliament that 90 percent of the experts who had given a statement were supporting the government's pact to make it possible for Finns to own publicly listed companies' stock through nominee accounts. The real number was 10 percent, opposite of what Stubb had said.[51] Chancellor of Justice Jaakko Jonkka received multiple complaints over Stubb. In his reply, Jonkka stated that Stubb's mistake in numbers was not deliberate, but was rather an unfortunate, whilst understandable, result of a fast-paced discussion over a policy draft.[52]

Partly as a result of a series of Stubb's gaffes, such as insensitive tweets,[49] in spring 2016, MP Elina Lepomäki and Minister of Interior Petteri Orpo announced that they would challenge Stubb in June's party conference. On 11 June, Stubb lost the election against Orpo, who became the new leader of the National Coalition Party.[53] Orpo soon announced that he would take Stubb's seat as the Minister of Finance.[54] In return, he offered Stubb the role of Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade, but Stubb declined and decided to continue as a Member of Parliament.[55]

After Finnish politics[edit]

Stubb in EPP Helsinki Congress, 7–8 November 2018
Stubb with Petteri Orpo in 2019

On 15 June 2017, Stubb was chosen as the vice-president of the European Investment Bank, after the previous representative from Finland Jan Vapaavuori had vacated the seat.[56] He left his duties in the Parliament on 30 July 2017 in order to assume his new position.[57] Stubb later commented that he had no interest in returning to the Finnish politics, but could be interested in running for the presidency of the European Commission or European Council.[58]

In June 2017, Stubb was nominated by former President Martti Ahtisaari to assume the leadership of the Crisis Management Initiative, a non-governmental organisation that works to prevent and resolve conflicts.[59] His position was confirmed by the board on 29 November 2017.[60]

On 2 October 2018, Stubb launched his bid for presidency of the European Commission as the lead candidate of the European People's Party.[61] On 8 November 2018, Stubb lost in EPP's Spitzenkandidat election against Manfred Weber, the group leader for the European People's Party in the European Parliament.[62]

In January 2020, as Stubb's term at the European Investment Bank was ending, he was chosen as the director and professor of the School of Transnational Governance-based within the European University Institute in Florence, Italy.[63] He started in the position on 1 May 2020.[64]

2024 Finnish presidential election[edit]

Ahead of the Finnish presidential election in January 2024, Stubb was constantly among the names that were mentioned as the National Coalition Party's presidential candidate. When asked about the topic, Stubb replied that he had promised to seriously consider candidacy if the party asks him to be their candidate.[65] On 14 August 2023, the board of the National Coalition Party decided to formally request Stubb to be the presidential candidate.[66] On 16 August 2023, Stubb announced that he would accept National Coalition Party's candidacy in the presidential election.[67][68]

In October 2023, Stubb was polling second in a poll done by Helsingin Sanomat, a Finnish newspaper. The percentage of citizens behind Stubb was 17% as the former foreign minister Pekka Haavisto was supported by 28% of Finnish people.[69]

With 27.21% of the total vote count, Stubb gained the most votes in the first round of voting and faced Pekka Haavisto in the second round. Stubb won the second round with 51.4% of the votes.[70][71]

Presidency (2024–present)[edit]

Stubb succeeded Sauli Niinistö as President of Finland on 1 March 2024 when he was sworn in before Finlands parliament.[72][73] Stubb is the first President from the Swedish-speaking minority since Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim who ruled the country until 1946. The same day he was sworn in king Carl XVI Gustaf invited Stubb to visit Sweden in April.[74]

Political views[edit]

Stubb is a proponent of deepening European integration. When he was the Minister for Foreign Affairs in 2008, Stubb gave a speech in which he argued in favour of the EU taking an active role in international politics. He noted that while the EU is the world's largest economy, it is not a superpower but a regional soft power.[75] When running for party leadership in 2014, he described himself as an "academic federalist", although "in practice a functionalist" with regard to the EU. Stubb, for example, opposes eurobonds.[76] He also insisted that he is no longer the "pure federalist" that he used to be when he was a researcher.[77] Stubb has expressed his support for Turkey's EU membership in 2010.[78] He warned that Brexit could pose a "Lehman Brothers moment" that could lead to the collapse of the EU.[79] Stubb held early on that Finland should apply for membership of NATO.[80]

Stubb is seen as a representative of the National Coalition Party's liberal wing.[81][82] He has characterized himself as a liberal,[83] as well as a moderate liberal. Stubb wants to bring about a "more positive way of doing politics". He believes everyone should be appreciated and respected even when there are disagreements.[84] He supports same-sex marriage,[85] and has been the patron of Helsinki's gay pride parade.[86] He supports multiculturalism,[87] and believes that increasing immigration is necessary.[88] Stubb believes that the most important political divide in modern politics is that between the supporters (like himself) and opponents of globalisation.[88] Stubb said that the legalisation of cannabis is the limit of his liberalism as it would break his political career.[89] During his presidential campaign, he announced that his foreign and security policies would be consensual, and contingent upon existential circumstances.[90]

Other work[edit]

An active columnist, Stubb has stated that he has "always been of the opinion that matters must be discussed openly and honestly". Since his professorship at the College of Europe, Stubb has published 16 books, dozens of academic articles, and hundreds of columns.[91][92] In 2016, Stubb started to write columns for the Financial Times.[93] Stubb maintains a blog.[94] He is also one of the most active Twitter users among European leaders.[95] He has co-authored an e-book in Finnish about what to do on Twitter.[96]

Stubb regularly contributes to the STG channel on YouTube (EUI School of Transnational Governance). His book Alaston totuus ja muita kirjoituksia suomalaisista ja eurooppalaisista – The Naked Truth and Other Stories About Finns and Europeans (ISBN 978-951-0-35175-8), a collection of his columns for the Finnair in-flight magazine Blue Wings, was published in a bilingual Finnish–English edition by WSOY in 2009.[97] Stubb has received the Schwarzkopf Foundation prize.[98]

Electoral history[edit]

2024 Finnish presidential election[edit]

Year Votes Percentage Result
2024 882,113 27.21% Advanced to second round
1,575,444 51.62% Elected

European Parliament elections[edit]

Year Constituency Votes Percentage Result
2004 Finland, European Union 115,224 6.96% Elected
2014 Finland, European Union 148,190 8.57% Elected

Finland Parliamentary elections[edit]

Year Constituency Votes Percentage Result
2011 Uusimaa, Finland 41,768 8.24% Elected
2015 Uusimaa, Finland 27,129 5.22% Elected

Source:[99]

Honours[edit]

National honours[edit]

Foreign honours[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Family[edit]

Stubb is married to Suzanne Innes-Stubb, a British-Finnish lawyer who he met in College of Europe in Bruges. They have two children (born in 2001 and 2004).[100] She is the first person of overseas origin to become the First Lady of Finland.[101]

Stubb resides in Westend, Espoo.[102]

Sports enthusiasm[edit]

Alexander Stubb in Frankfurt 2009

As a "confessed sports nut",[103] Stubb regularly competes in marathons and triathlons and has finished Ironman Triathlons.

In his 2012 Frankfurt Ironman, he competed with "Iron Birds Finland", a team of 18 people competing to support leukemia research.[104] In the 2013 Ironman Sweden (in Kalmar), Stubb's time was 9:55'47.[105] Stubb ran his best marathon time, 3:11:24, in the 2014 Berlin Marathon.[106]

Cabinets[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Minister for Foreign Affairs
2008–2011
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister for European Affairs and Trade
2011–2014
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of Finland
2014–2015
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Finance
2015–2016
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of Finland
2024–present
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by Leader of the National Coalition Party
2014–2016
Succeeded by
Academic offices
Preceded by Invocation Speaker of the College of Europe
2015
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