Both candidates have more in common than different, especially in matters of foreign policy. Both have been ministers of foreign affairs, both have a firm stance against Finland’s big and aggressive neighbor Russia, and both emphasize the need to support Ukraine.
A fierce battle awaits
This fact has not gone unnoticed by the Russian propaganda media, which laments that two “anti-Russian” politicians will fight for victory in the Finnish presidential election.
Public opinion polls show that ex-prime minister Stubs, who represents the centre-right National Coalition party, is currently in the lead.
His rival is Hávisto, who previously – in 2012 and 2018 – ran for the position of president representing the Green Party, but this time he decided to run as an independent candidate, without party affiliation.
Similar to the first round two weeks ago, there was a high voter turnout in the previous voting this time, and polls show that the fight will be tight.
Almost 46% of eligible voters voted in the previous voting, but on Sunday the polling stations will be open from 9 am to 8 pm.
In the first round of elections, Stubbs won 27.2% of the vote, beating Hávisto, who came in second with 25.8%. The far-right candidate Jusi Halla-aho came in third with 19%. With neither Stubbs nor Havisto reaching the 50 percent threshold needed to win the first round, the result will be decided in a second round on Sunday.
Both have extensive experience in foreign policy
The 55-year-old Stubbs has been the favorite throughout the pre-election campaign, but recently the gap between him and Havisto has narrowed.
According to the Finnish public media “Yle”, 54% of the respondents are going to vote for Stubbs, while Hávisto could receive 46% of the votes.
Previously, the difference between the two candidates was larger, 14 percentage points and more.
Analysts have said that the rivalry will become increasingly intense in the final days of the campaign, as both hope to win the trust of right-wing voters who have so far supported Jusi Halla-aho.
Finland’s president has a leading role in foreign policy, and both candidates are widely known in this field. Both were ministers of foreign affairs, Stubbs was also the prime minister of Finland and a member of the European Parliament. Haavisto, on the other hand, played an important role in the process when Finland joined NATO last year.
Anxiety about conflicts
Recently, there have been disagreements between the two candidates on the issue of whether nuclear weapons held by NATO countries could be deployed in Finland. Stubbs is inclined to support such a move, but Hávisto is against it.
“What we are seeing now is an increase in various types of conflict. Russia is attacking Ukraine, Hamas is attacking Israel, and Israel is fighting back. We are seeing the emergence of local and regional conflicts,” says Stubbs.
“One of the main tasks of the future president of Finland is to work as much as he can on peace mediation. I myself helped to negotiate peace in the war in Georgia in 2008, Pekka himself has participated in many peace talks,” says Stubbs.
“Diplomacy very often takes place in secret, as we know, we don’t read about it either in the press or in the media, but finally the results will hopefully come out. And both of these conflicts are very important for Finland’s security,” Haavisto concludes.
Hávisto’s sexual orientation is also discussed
The 65-year-old Hávisto said that his sexual orientation also became a discussed issue during the pre-election campaign. Hávisto is homosexual; he has been living in a partnership with Ecuadorian Antonio Flores, whom he once met in Colombia, for more than 20 years.
Haavisto’s sexual orientation was no secret to the Finns, so he expressed his surprise as to why journalists tried to raise this issue during the pre-election campaign.
However, polls show that some Finns might have objections to a homosexual politician as head of state.
If Hāvisto wins the presidential election, he will become the second openly homosexual head of state in Europe, along with Latvian President Edgars Rinkēvičs.