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22.23 100% of votes have been counted. The result of the first round of the Finnish presidential election 2012 is clear:
- Sauli Niinistö, National Coalition Party 37,0% Goes through to the second round of voting
- Pekka Haavisto, Green party 18,8% Goes through to the second round of voting
- Paavo Väryrynen, Centre party 17,5%
- Timo Soini, True Finns 9,4%
- Paavo Lipponen, Social Democratic Party 6,7%
- Paavo Ahrinmäki, Left Alliance 5,5%
- Eva Biaudet, Swedish People’s Party 2,7%
- Sari Essayah, Christian Democrats 2,5%
21.55 99,4 percent of votes counted. The second round is in two weeks time between Sauli Niinistö of the National Coalition party and Pekka Haavisto of the Greens. What will the campaign look like? It certainly seems likely those that voted for Väryrynen and Timo Soini will overwhelmingly give their support to Niinistö. Ahrinmäki’s are likely to go to Haavisto, as are many of Lipponen’s and Biaudet’s. The others are perhaps harder to say, some will go to Haavisto, others to Niinistö. Will we see a more even match in the second round than we’d ever have expected a few months ago? Who will the excluded losing candidates throw their support behind?
21.35 Around 97% of votes counted: not much has changed. It looks like it will be Niinistö against Haavisto in the second round of voting on 5 February.
21.17 Worth noting, that with 91% of votes counted, Haavisto received only 14,6% of votes cast during advanced voting, but so far 21,4% have gone to him on the actual voting day (today). Whilst Väryrynen’s support was stable (18 and 17,9% respectively). Tactical voting?
21.10 Professor Göran Djupsund says he would be “very surprised” if Haavisto was not second now. It is the urban vote that is disproportionately not counted yet and he is now on 18,5% to Väryrynen’s 17,7%.
21.02 Yle notes that Väryrynen didn’t even get 3000 votes in April 2011′s parliamentary election, when he lost his parliament seat.
20.59 Eva Biaudet of the Swedish People’s Party has done better than the party’s candidate, Henrik Lax, did in the last election in 2006. Then he won 1,6% of the vote, Biaudet is currently forecast to get 2,7% of the vote.
20.55 Yle’s forecast has been updated and now predicts Haavisto will go to the second round with 18% of the vote to Väryrynen’s 17,9%.
20.54 This screen dump from Yle shows their prognosis in full:
20.52 Yle’s prognosis, which is usually reliable, has finally been released by the national broadcaster. Yle forecasts that Paavo Väryrynen will go to the second round against Niinistö.
20.35 Yle reports many advanced votes from the cities Helsinki, Turku and Espoo have not been reported in yet! In other words, things will change a lot most likely. Many votes for Haavisto are likely amongst those waiting to be counted.This news is also delaying Yle’s election prognosis which the public service broadcaster had hoped to broadcast at 20.35.
20.33 For an illustration of the rural-urban divide: In the southern electoral district of Uusimaa/Nyland, the results are so far: Niinistö on top 45,9%, but Haavisto clear second on 17,1 with Väryrynen only on 9,3. But in rural Lapland, Niinistö has only 23,6% of the votes, Väryrynen actually comes first with a massive 43,8 of votes, whilst Haavisto has 9,5%. NB: Neither electoral district has concluded counting.
20.25 The Ministry of Justice’s results service is also available in English here.
20.23 Professor Göran Djupsund notes on Finlands Svenska Televisions results programme that the rural areas are quickest at counting their votes, which are Väyrynen strongholds. Pekka Haavisto’s support is likely to increase when results from the largest towns begin to be counted, particularly the capital region where the Greens have the strongest level of support traditionally.
20.18 Social Democrats’ candidate Paavo Lipponen says he’s disappointed with the result. Said he wanted to be in the second round as a counterweight to Niinistö and now the second round won’t be very interesting. He can’t say at this stage why he has not done better.
20.17 Timo Soini, the party leader and True Finns presidential candidate, admits he will not make the second round. But, he will not say who he will back in the second round, saying that he needs to see who will be in it first.
20.08 Sauli Niinistö thanking his campaign workers and looking forward to a good evening at his election night party.
20.05 Very much between Väyrynen and Haavisto in the battle for second place, with everything to play for between the two. Pekka Haavisto is in position two in bilingual municipalities.
20.02 40,2% for Niinistö of the National Coalition party in the advanced voting, 17,6% for Centre’s Väyrynen, Green’s Haavisto 14,8%, True Finns’ Soini 9,6%, Social Democrat’s Lipponen 7,3%, Left Alliance’s Ahrinmäki 5,7%, Christian Democrats’ Sari Essayah 2,6%, Swedish People’s Party Eva Biaudet 2,5%
20.00 Polling stations have closed. Results of advanced voting are being announced now…
19.59 Will the advanced voting results show a true picture of the final result? Around as many as a quarter of voters have stated they didn’t know who they were going to vote for in opinion polls before election day. Perhaps a lot of movement has happened in opinion since the last advanced votes were cast on Tuesday and those people who have voted today.
19.55 Sauli Niinistö’s campaign are obviously very confident of their victory: they’re holding their election night party at Hotelli Presidentti, “Hotel President”, in central Helsinki.
19.50 The newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet is reporting strong voting after lunch at polling stations in the capital region. Polling stations close in ten minutes at 20.00, after which the results of advanced voting (which have been counted already) will be announced. A reminded, that in a presidential election system, a candidate needs to win more than half of the votes in order to win in the first round. This has never happened since direct voting for the president was introduced in 1994. Should no candidate receive more than half the votes, a second round of voting will be held on 5 February between the two candidates who score the highest number of votes in this first round.
19.28 Whilst it would take an absolutely massive upset for anyone other than Sauli Niinistö to win this first round (and eventually the presidency), what is also certain is that the strong showing for Paavo Väyrynen will have aided his position within his party. Some in the Centre party had not be all to enthusiastic when it had emerged that he would be their candidate, including it is rumoured party leader Mari Kiviniemi. They feared Väyrynen was all too old fashioned and a bit of a loose canon. Yet, his Eurosceptic message seems to have gone home with voters – at least enough to ensure he will likely finish a strong second or third, something nobody would have predicted a few months back. What will his position be in the future? Could he even challenge the Kiviniemi for the party leadership? It would be a surprise, but don’t rule it out. Quite the come-back for a veteran of the Kekkonen era.
19.12 The Swedish People’s Party candidate Eva Biaudet is also not likely to perform strongly in advanced polling. In many Swedish-speaking areas, it is traditional to vote on the actual voting day (today). These results will only start to be counted at 20.00 when polls close. But, look for a fairly quick result in this election. It does not take a long time to count presidential ballot papers. By 20.35, the Finnish national broadcaster is looking to have its usually reliable forecast out. All the votes will probably be counted by 22.00.
19.07 Whilst many Finns, including me, have voted today on the actual polling day at the polling station nearest our homes, over 1,3 million Finnish citizens (or 32,7% of the electorate) have already cast their votes during the advanced voting period which was between 11-17 January. These votes started to be counted today, already in advance of the close of the polls at 20.00. Their results will be announced as soon as today’s voting ends at 20.00. So, we’ll already have a good idea of how large Sauli Niinistö’s lead is – will he win the presidency already in the first round? We might not have such a good idea of who is going to come second and challenge him in any second round though. The Centre party’s Paavo Väyrynen and the Green’s Pekka Haaviso have, in opinion polls, been neck and neck with around 11-12%. But Väyrynen is likely to perform disproportionately well in advanced voting as the Centre party secures much of its support from the Finnish-speaking countryside, where people tend to disproportionately vote in advance.
19.03 Welcome to this live election results blog. Polling stations in the Finnish presidential election 2012 close in just under one hour at 20.00. All times in this blog are Finnish time. We’re two hours ahead of GMT and one hour ahead of Central European Time.
The Ministry of Justice’s results web service will be updated from 20.00 with all the latest results from around the country, as they are reported. You can access it here.
Presidential election 2012
This blog has been a bit quiet lately, for which I apologise. But tomorrow will see the first round of voting in the Finnish Presidential Election 2012.
Eight candidates have been campaigning to succeed Tarja Halonen, who will retire after completing two terms – the maximum allowed under the constitution. The candidates are:
Sauli Niinistö (National Coaltion party) – the favourite by some margin, for months and months. There has been speculation that Niinistö could win the presidency without the need for a second round of voting (which is held between the two highest polling candidates, if no candidate receives more than half the votes in the first round). However, his lead has been dented through the last month of the campaign and it now looks likely that a second round will be necessary.
Pekka Haavisto (Greens) – has increased his popularity in the last month of the campaign and alongside the Centre party’s candidate, has the best chance of making it through to a second round. Popular predominantly amongst the young and in the capital region.
Paavo Väyrynen (Centre) – somewhat of a relic of the Kekkonen age, Väyrynen can be seen as a rather old school candidate. He’s tried to reinvent himself in this campaign as a more happy, laid back character and is perhaps this election campaign’s biggest surprise. He is now challenging for second place. Popular particularly in the Finnish-speaking countryside.
Timo Soini (True Finns) – the leader of the populist party has not seen his opinion poll prospects reflect his party’s big success in April’s parliamentary election. Many True Finns are set to back Väyrynen. According to Soini, that’s because they want to see Soini continue as party chairman in parliament.
Paavo Lipponen (Social Democratic Party) – a former SDP prime minister who has strongly supported the rights of the Swedish-speaking population. The oldest candidate in the election. His polling figures have been disappointingly low. He will not make the second round. The Social Democratic Party’s thirty year hold on the presidency will come to an end after Halonen leaves office.
Eva Biaudet (Swedish People’s Party) – the minority ombudsman. Has run a positive, upbeat campaign, considered a liberal, she has had trouble uniting SFP party supporters fully behind her in what is after all a largely personality based election. She also has run a campaign with a similar focus to Haavisto, and it’s likely that Finnish-speakers would rather vote for him.
Paavo Ahrinmäki (Left Alliance) – the youngest candidate has not always looked like a willing one. Perhaps he was almost forced to stand as the most prominent profile in the current Left Alliance party.
Sari Essayah (Christian Democrats) – a former athlete, Essayah has run a rather anonymous campaign. Denied in an tv-debate that the situation for Swedish-speakers in Finland has worsened and agreed with Soini that racism is not a problem in the country.
Tomorrow evening, after the polls have closed at 20.00, I will be back with a live election results blog. Will Niinistö win in the first round? Who will come second and challenge him in the second round of voting? Come back tomorrow evening to find out!
Presidential Election 2012
The Ombudsman for Minorities Eva Biaudet has been unveiled as the Swedish People’s Party’s candidate in next January’s presidential elections. Biaudet must receive the endorsement of the party’s conference meeting in October, but this is thought to be a mere formality. She announced her candidacy yesterday at a press conference alongside former SFP presidential candidate Elisabeth Rehn, who made it through to the second round against eventual victor Martti Ahtisaari in the 1994 presidential race. SFP’s previous leaders and other prominent figures from the party were also alongside Biaudet, showing that she has widespread support at least amongst the party’s top. She had been widely tipped as being SFP’s candidate for some time in the media.
Before being minorities ombudsman, Biaudet worked at the OSCE in Vienna on issues surrounding human trafficking. She has previously been a government minister and parliament member in Finland.
Biaudet could prove to reach out across the language divide and pick up Finnish-speaking votes. Whilst I can’t see her repeating the success of Rehn in 1994, she is a liberal figure that may prove popular amongst those disappointed with the current harder debate climate on matters such as immigration bought about largely because of the recent rise of the True Finns party in national politics. She is also looking likely to be the only woman amongst a field of otherwise ageing men in grey suits. She is also untainted by recent national political involvement which could prove to be an advantage, she also has international experience. I personally think that Biaudet is a great candidate in this election. Someone who would provide Finland with a respectable figurehead internationally at this time when our reputation has become somewhat tainted by the populist wave experienced during our parliamentary elections. It is also important that SFP has a candidate in the election. Even if there is little chance of an SFP candidate getting to the second round or elected, the election provides many forums to debate political issues, even those not directly related to the president’s limited powers. SFP needs to be there debating these issues otherwise it risks becoming invisible to the electorate. With a candidate in the election, SFP can now be sure to be able to take part in the coming debates in the run up to the January election.
And let’s not forget, a lot can happen during this autumn and winter. No one would have predicted that Elisabeth Rehn would have made the second round in 1994 at this stage of the campaign. So, let’s not rule anything out just yet.
Pictured: Eva Biaudet (left) and Elisabeth Rehn (right)