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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!
Svenskfinland in English has been taking a little (okay, long) break of late. I have simply had too much to do with work and, if I am honest, I lost the urge to blog. But had I been blogging away as usual during the last six months or so, I fear that this blog would not have made happy reading.
The language climate in Finland is becoming ever less tolerant and the position of Swedish risks being so seriously maligned that a future in which it is possible to access public services in one’s mother tongue seems ever more bleak.
Amongst things that have happened in the last few months include the ongoing saga of the orientation of the city of Karleby (Kokkola) in Österbotten. Despite various bodies stating that for linguistic reasons it should be included in the Österbotten region with its state services located in Vasa, the Centre party (led by very vocal support from new Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi) continues to call for its incorporation into the district led by the unilingual Finnish-speaking city of Oulu/Uleåborg. The question seems to have become a matter of stubbornness amongst Centre party members who do not want to back-down even in the face of the Constitution which would seem to make any northern orientation illegal because of the linguistic consequences.
Maternity services at Ekenäs hospital in Western Nyland have closed down despite massive protests by local inhabitants and many, mainly Swedish-speaking, politicians. The municipality of Raseborg, where the hospital is located, has a majority of Swedish-speaking Finns and the hospital was the last in a Swedish-speaking majority area in southern Finland to offer maternity services. Residents of Raseborg will now be forced to travel to hospital in Lojo or Esbo to give birth, where Swedish-speaking service is often hard to obtain. Ludicrously, some Finnish-speaking members of the hospital board covering much of southern Finland suggested that Raseborg residents could travel to Borgå hospital if they wanted to be sure of Swedish service when they give birth – a journey of 153 km taking around 2 hours by car – hardly feasible for a mother entering labour!
The debate surrounding Swedish-language instruction in Finnish-speaking schools heated up during the last six months with debate on its future even making the main headlines in the Finnish-language media. The debate – even in the mainstream media outlets such as Yleisradio and Helsingin Sanomat - continues to use the pejorative term pakkoruotsi to describe the teaching of Swedish, meaning roughly ‘forced/compulsory Swedish’ – strangely one never hears of ‘forced mathematics’ or ‘forced biology’ classes. The debate gained prominence largely because the National Coalition Kokoomus party’s congress voted against the party leadership’s direction on a measure calling for the abandonment of Swedish as a compulsory school subject for Finnish-speakers. The Confederation of Finnish Industry (EK) also called for its abolishment. According to EK, schools ought to offer a broader range of languages instead of compulsory Swedish. This seems to suggest that the teaching of Swedish is an impediment to the learning of other languages, which is of course very strange logic indeed. Learning Swedish is naturally of no hindrance to also learning Russian, German, French, Chinese or any other language. Finland’s bilingualism ought to be a plus for Finnish industry’s competitiveness, especially when Finland is a Nordic country. EK’s reasoning was dealt a further blow when a survey showed that 80% of companies in the finance sector regarded the knowledge of Swedish as a decisive factor when choosing how to employ.
In a move that has the potential to cause the loss of life, reports of a 112 emergency call centre failing to be able to speak Swedish to a unilingual Swedish-speaking caller from Sibbo have again been in the media in recent weeks. Fortunately, the call was not concerning a life-threatening medical condition and the caller was eventually able to pass her phone to a neighbour who spoke good Finnish – but the example shows that authorities are not living up to their legal obligations in even the most serious areas of service-provision. What would have happened if it was a serious condition and an ambulance was not dispatched in time to save a life? Emergency messages to the public that are broadcast on television screens as text have also failed to appear in Swedish in two incidents recently, once concerning a severe fire in the largely Swedish-speaking town of Hangö.
In film-related news, Swedish subtitles have also been missing from many cinema film showings of late with cinema films blaming it on digitalisation. Apparently modern technology means that it’s not possible to do what was quite achievable before – namely to show subtitles in two languages at the same time. A debate has also blown up in the Swedish-speaking press surrounding the new Moomintroll film. The film will premier in Finnish and English with the Swedish-language version to follow only a few weeks later. Given that the Moomintrolls are probably the most famous Swedish-speaking Finns, concern has been raised that this is a sign of ever increasing Finnish-language cultural imperialism in Finland. An attempt to deny that the Swedish language is part of Finland’s culture – even with the now world-famous Moomintrolls, a Swedish-speaking creation.
It is not all bad news, the increasing indifference and lack of understanding for Swedish has raised concern even amongst prominent Finnish-speaking politicians. Elder statesmen Martti Ahtisaari (former president and Nobel Peace Prize winner) and Paavo Lipponen (former Prime Minister) have spoken in favour of Swedish. President Tarja Halonen has also expressed her concern for recent developments.
Pictured: Protesters against the closure of the maternity ward in Ekenäs on the steps of Parliament in Helsingfors/Helsinki.