Finland The coalition candidate elected as the 13th president of the republic on Sunday Alexander Stubb visibly extended his hand on election night to those citizens who voted for the candidate of the voters’ association Pekka Haavisto.
“I will put the interests of the whole of Finland first, always and together,” Stubb said in his speech after returning to the election supervisors.
“I will do everything for this republic, this beloved country of ours, that I will be a unifying factor and that in these times of unrest in this country, peace will be preserved. Why? Because I love this country.”
Even before this, Stubb visited the election supervisors in Haavisto, where he conveyed the same message.
He stated that he hopes that now we can agree on one thing: that now there is no longer Alex’s team or Peka’s team, but that “we only have the Finnish team”.
Foreign policy senior researcher at the institute Iro Sarkkä highlights from Stubb’s evening performance, among other things, exactly Stubb’s visible desire to be the unifying president of the entire nation.
“It was of course a really great bet or it showed signs of fair play and authenticity that he initially wanted to go there among the opposing party’s supporters,” says Särkkä.
Skarkä Stubb appeared much more humble on election night than during the election campaign.
“Now it was clearly noticeable the humility and ballast caused by that institution and this result, that he takes this task really seriously and wants to make sure that Finland does not get separated or blocked.”
In Särkä’s opinion, Stubb’s appearance gave a genuine impression that he wants to build a united Finland and promote Finland’s interests.
Connective the message may also be necessary: Election result was the tightest of the second round all time when looking at direct presidential elections. There was a difference of less than 99,000 votes when all the votes were counted.
“The victory can also be interpreted as the fact that almost half were of the opinion that Haavisto should have become president”, Särkkä reminds.
Stubb himself said that Haavisto and Stubb had agreed that the winner would go with supervisors.
Särkkä states that uniting the people also has its challenges.
At the beginning of his task, Stubb has to simultaneously take over a demanding international political situation and create relationships internationally. At the same time, he should create trust outside the ring three and remote areas in Finland.
Regarding Stubb’s speech on election night, Särkkä also points out that the speech emphasized two opposing sides: internationalism and patriotism.
Internationality was underlined by the fact that Stubb performed in three different languages: in addition to Finnish, Swedish and English. Patriotism was emphasized, among other things, by the statement that he loves Finland.
“A bit of an American-style feeling came to mind,” says Särkkä.
Stubbs becomes president at a very different time than his predecessor Sauli Niinistö.
The war in Ukraine has lasted almost two years, and there is no end in sight. The US commitment to support Ukraine is at stake. Allies in Europe are suspicious of the United States’ commitment to the defense of Europe, if Donald Trump is elected president.
What is Stubb’s hardest test right from the start?
The first challenges of the new president can come very quickly, Särkkä estimates.
It is not impossible that Russia would initiate some kind of new hybrid measures or that the conflict in the Middle East would escalate more widely through, for example, Yemen.
The first state visits and the president’s first NATO summit in the summer in Washington, where supporting Ukraine and the NATO relationship, are certainly ahead.
Stubb can also start preparing for the OSCE presidency next year.
How about what will change in the management of Finland’s foreign and security policy?
Särkkä states that Stubb has always emphasized that he is the president of the new era. He believes that this can be seen, among other things, precisely in how actively he raises questions related to NATO membership.
Stubbs talked a lot during his campaign about how Finland will get a “NATO president”. He has also referred to the first NATO summit in Washington in July as important for the president.
Speaking to the international media at the city hall on election night, Stubb said, among other things, that he wants to see Finland at the core of NATO and sees no limits to Finland’s membership. He reminded, among other things, of Finland’s recent commitments to NATO’s peacetime tasks.
Särkkä says that Stubb conveyed a very committed image of Finland’s role in NATO. Särkkä sees that the role may be more active than Niinistö’s, although Niinistö has already been stepping down as president. It is probably also more active than what Haavisto would have taken, Särkkä estimates.
It remains to be seen, for example, how actively Stubb lobbies the NATO sub-staff to Finland, which he has featured in the election debates.
Bank when asked about changes in the management of foreign and security policy, he also brings up the methods of operation.
“I think his way of working can be kind of nimble. I don’t say more agile, but agile.”
“He may also be quite quick in his movements.”