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I am afraid I am not providing a live blog in this second round of voting. It would have been a surprise of earthquake proportions for Pekka Haavisto to beat Sauli Niinistö, and that earthquake has not happened. Voting closed just over ten minutes ago at 20.00 Finnish time and the results of advanced voting and the first election day counts have come in. With around 53% of votes counted, Sauli Niinistö has 65,5% of votes and Pekka Haavisto has 34,5%.
Whilst Haavisto was never going to truly challenge Niinistö for victory, this has been a special turning point of an election. A Green reached the second round sending a powerful signal in a society still partially shaken by the success of True Finns in April 2011′s parliamentary polls, a Social Democrat will not be elected president for the first time in three decades. It’s also historic in that Niinistö will win with the greatest level of popular support since the president was chosen by direct voting.
Sauli Niinistö, of the moderate conservative National Coalition party, will be sworn in as President of the Republic on 1 March 2012. You can expect his first foreign visits, almost certainly to Sweden and then later to Estonia as per tradition, shortly afterwards.
The final margin of Niinistö’s victory will become clear when all the votes are counted, which should be at or just before 22.00. If you want to follow the full results, you can do so on the Justice Ministry’s website here: http://220.127.116.11/TP2012K2/e/tulos/lasktila.html (in English language)
Update 20.38 Yle, the public service broadcaster, has just announced its forecast for the final result: Niinistö 62,9%, Haavisto 37,1%. Not a bad result for Haavisto considering his background, party, and the popularity of his opponent.
Update 20.40 It is now impossible for Haavisto to win. Even if all the existing votes that are uncounted were for him, there simply wouldn’t be enough votes to bridge the gap between him and Niinistö. 81,7% of votes are now counted.
Update 20.55 Turnout in this election is low – only 69%, but with large variations in different regions. The Finnish-speaking countryside has the lowest turnouts. Weather has been bad and these areas strongly support the Centre party, and thus perhaps have little motivation to scrape the ice off of the car to go and vote in this contest.
Update 22.30 100% of votes have been counted. The final result is:
- Sauli Niinistö 1 802 400 votes, 62,6%
- Pekka Haavisto 1 076 957 votes, 37,4%
The municipalities of Pernå, Strömfors (Ruotsinpyhtää) and Lijendal will merge with the town of Lovisa from 1 January 2010. The new enlarged Lovisa will have a population of ca 15 700 and a Swedish-speaking population of 44% (39% in the current Lovisa town). The merger means the loss of the last Swedish-speaking majority municipalities east of Helsinki (or east of Ingå to be more precise, which is now Finland’s most “eastern” Swedish-speaking majority municipality) and the last Swedish-speaking majority municipalities in Östra Nyland (Itä-Uusimaa); both Pernå and Lijendal have a majority of Swedish-speakers.
Voters in the new Lovisa voted already on Sunday for their new municipal council which will replace the four existing separate bodies. The new council will assemble for the first time in November. Svenska folkpartiet, the Swedish People’s Party (SFP), won the most votes and seats. SFP won 40,6% of the vote and will thus get 25 places. The Social Democratic Party (SDP) won 22,8% of the vote and 14 seats. The National Coalition Party Kokoomus/Samlingspartiet got a vote share of 14,1% equating to 8 places.
The populist right-wing True Finns, the Greens and the Centre Party will each have 3 seats in the new council receiving 5,8%, 5,3% and 5,1% of the vote respectively. The Left Alliance becomes a new face in the politics of the municipalities winning its first seat with 2,3% of votes. The ‘Non-Alligned in the New Lovisa’ and the Christian Democrats also both pick up one seat each with 2,1% and 1,6% respectively.
The municipal election in the new Lovisa marked the first electoral outing for the Finnish Pirate Party (see previous entry on the PP). They failed to find any sympathy amongst voters getting just 17 votes (0,2%) and no seats – the only party that stood not to win a place.
The main story of the night was the extremely slow processing and announcing of the results, despite a turnout of only 62,3%. The final preliminary result was not announced until gone half past eleven, over three and half hours after voting booths closed. Borgåbladet reports that several voices at the National Coalition party’s election night called the organisation of the vote count “a scandal” and that action must follow as a result of its poor handling. The Lovisa-based newspaper Östra Nyland reports that the vote reporting was so scandalously slow because the Central Elections Committee in Lovisa had only arranged for one computer and one person to manage the reporting of the votes.
Although SFP won the most votes and seats, it does not have an overall majority. Some voices in the local Social Democratic group have said that they would like to see all the other parties form a coalition to keep SFP out from power in the new Lovisa. However, the SDP is split on this matter and the Kokoomus’ local leader has already announced his preferred alliance would be with SFP and the Greens. It also seems highly unlikely that non-SFP parties, which cover a large spectrum of political views, could come to an agreement to keep SFP out. So, SFP is likely to have the strongest hand in the coming negotiations over how to structure the running of the new Lovisa.
The election results can be seen as a disappointment for the SDP and Kokoomus in comparison with their expectations. It has been a marginal success for the True Finns who received more votes than Centre. SFP’s share of the vote is roughly as expected, if not a very slight disappointment. SFP may have lost some votes in Liljendal and Pernå to parties that have not previously contested municipal elections in those municipalities. In other words, some voters had more choice than in the past.
Pictured: Town Hall on Lovisa’s main square, built in 1862.