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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://126.96.36.199/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%
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!