Run-off vote: who will be Finland's next president?

After the first round of voting on Sunday, two of the nine candidates seeking to succeed popular Sauli Niinistö as Finnish president have made it to the second round: former Prime Minister Alexander Stubb, who like Niinistö belongs to the conservative National Coalition Party, and the Green Party candidate Pekka Haavisto, who is running as an independent. Voters have thus already made two fundamental decisions, commentators note.

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Ilta-Sanomat (FI) /

Liberal vs liberal - a close-run race

Ilta-Sanomat predicts that it will be an open race:

“At first glance Alexander Stubb's starting position appears to be easier. ... It has the solid support of the National Coalition Party and its voters are loyal. Now it's up to Stubb to rally the voters of the other conservative parties behind him. Pekka Haavisto will also have to reach out to middle-class voters. Before the first round of voting, his claim 'I'm not even a bit red' attracted a lot of attention. ... But Haavisto can't afford to upset his left-wing voters either. Both Stubb and Haavisto are typical men from the capital region. Both are seen as liberals in terms of values. ... In the Finnish provinces, neither inspires great enthusiasm. This could have surprising consequences for the election campaign.”

Ukrajinska Prawda (UA) /

Guaranteed support for Ukraine

Both candidates have a tough stance regarding the threat posed by Russia, Ukrainska Pravda is pleased to report:

“The name of the new Finnish president who will govern the country until 2030 will not be known until after the run-off election on 11 February. But it's safe to say that regardless of who wins, Finland's support for Ukraine will remain as strong as ever. As will Finland's voice in the EU and NATO in favour of speeding up the expansion of defence capabilities and for ensuring we are well prepared for all scenarios.”