by Sven Triloqvist
Sun Jan 15th, 2006 at 05:05:30 PM EST
Current president (Social Democrat - the favourite) Tarja Halonen just failed to make 50% in the first round of voting today, Second was Rightish former Finance minister Sauli Niinistö with 24.1% and third was current prime minister Matti Vanhanen from the Center party (also rightish) with 18.6%.
Vanhanen promised support for Niinistö when conceding defeat.
a touch more below...
Should make it a very interesting second round two sundays from now. Halonen's support has been dropping, and Niinistö could pick up a lot of votes from the now excluded other parties.
The Finnish President's responsibilities are Foreign Policy (in cooperation with the Eduskunta or Parliament), and being Commander-in-chief. Halonen (the first female President) has been a sympathetic but perhaps too laid back President. Her period was marked by serious debate about role of Pres. Finns are embarrassed that both Halonen and Vanhanen (PM) both turn up for international Foreign Policy meetings of any kind abroad.
But I don't see near-future likelihood of any lessening of Presidential powers.
Niinistö is an excellent manager and superb in finance. He is credited with turning the economy round and creating stability during his period as CFO of Finland. There were loud squeals from the left with his mild austerity programme, but it showed results quite fast. He's also has an affair with (some say) the sexiest lady in Parilament, former beauty pageant miss Tanja Karpela - currently Culture Minister. She's from a different party (Vanhanen's Center Party), so there was always room for a bit of scandal. But Niinistö handled himself as a gent.
He can also be seen rollerblading around the streets of downtown Helsinki. He's a widower. He is currently VP of the European Investment Bank in Luxembourg.
I have to say that though I prefer Niinistö, Halonen is OK. Even Vanhanen would have been no threat. We've lived with coalition governments for so long here, we are just happy that no-one attempts anything too radical.