Staub, 55, is now a director and professor at a European university in Florence. He was previously Prime Minister (in 2014-2015) and held various ministerial positions. Stobbe represents Finland's largest party, the conservative National Liberal Coalition Party.
With Stubb, Finland got a pro-European candidate. Stubb, who is fluent in five European languages, has been a member of the European Parliament, has written books about the European Union, and in 2018 ran for president of the European Commission. He said he ran for president because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. When launching his candidacy, he said: “In this geopolitical situation, the matter is clear: when the nation calls, we rise.”
About the author
Jeroen Visser is the Scandinavia and Finland correspondent De Volkskrant. Lives in Stockholm. He was previously a Southeast Asia correspondent. He is the author of the book North Korea never says sorry.
In the first round on January 28, Stapp received 27.2 percent of the votes. Haavisto came in second place with 25.8 percent. Far-right candidate Jossi Hala-aho came in third place with 19%. The second round was necessary because neither candidate obtained a majority.
It is likely that Staub received many votes in the second round from voters who had previously voted for the far-right Halla-aho. Polls last week showed that a large majority of these voters intend to support Stapp. Supporters of the Center Party, which is very popular in the countryside, also turned to Stubb. The choice of a conservative liberal candidate is not surprising. In the parliamentary elections that took place last year, a right-wing coalition won the majority.
Special state system
Finland has a special state system in which the president and prime minister share power. The president-elect heads the armed forces and helps determine foreign policy. As head of state, the President represents Finland abroad and signs new laws. He will also travel to NATO summits.
In recent weeks, the election campaign has focused mainly on the cold relationship with Russia. Since Finland joined NATO, the relationship has seriously deteriorated. Stubb, who has championed Finland's NATO membership since 2008, said during the campaign that he would not block NATO troops from arriving in Finland. He also said he could agree to transfer (but not deploy) nuclear weapons through Finnish territory.
Border conflict with Russia
One of the new president's first tasks is to work with the government to find a way out of the border conflict with Russia. The 1,340-kilometre border has been closed since December after relatively large numbers of asylum seekers entered Finland. According to the Finnish government, Moscow is behind this. Last week, the Finnish government extended the lockdown until mid-April. “There are at least hundreds, and possibly thousands, of migrants on the Russian side of the border waiting to come to Finland,” Interior Minister Mari Rantanen said in a statement last week.
Stubb starts March 1st. Finland then bids farewell to popular President Sauli Niinistö, who has been president for twelve years. Under his leadership, Finland joined NATO last year. The country thus ended a long tradition of military non-alignment.
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