Finns vote on Sunday in a presidential election runoff between centre-right candidate Alexander Stubb of Finland’s National Coalition Party and liberal Green Party member Pekka Haavisto.

Former prime minister Alexander Stubb narrowly won the first round of voting on Jan. 28, and leads former foreign minister, centre-left liberal Pekka Haavisto by 6-8 percentage points in the latest polls.

Stubb got 27.2% support in the first round, followed by Haavisto with 25.8%. As no-one obtained more than 50%, a runoff vote is required.

Here is a guide to the election:

WHAT ARE THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF FINLAND’S PRESIDENT?

Finland’s president leads foreign and security policy and represents the country at NATO’s meetings.

The president also acts as commander-in-chief of the Finnish Defence Forces, deciding on any significant changes in military preparedness.

The president appoints and discharges ministers, some high-ranking civil servants and Supreme Court judges. At the prime minister’s request, the president has the power to order early parliamentary elections.

HOW IS THE FINNISH PRESIDENT ELECTED?

The president, who must be a native born Finnish citizen, is directly elected by universal suffrage for a six-year term.

Since swapping from an electoral college system to a direct popular vote in 1994, no president may be elected for more than two consecutive terms.

Presidential candidates are nominated either by registered political parties or by constituency associations established by 20,000 people entitled to vote.

WHAT TIME IS VOTING?

Polls will open at 0900 EET (0700 GMT) and close at 2000 EET (1800 GMT) on Feb. 11.

The advance voting period ran from Jan. 31 to Feb. 6 in Finland, during which nearly 46% of those entitled to vote cast their ballots, official data showed.

In the first round on Jan. 28, voter turnout stood at 74.9%, up from 69.9% in the last presidential election in 2018.

WHEN WILL THE RESULT BE KNOWN?

Results from the advance voting will be confirmed shortly after polls close at 1800 GMT on Sunday.

Full results are expected as the vote count progresses, most likely before 2100 GMT on Sunday.

On Feb. 14, the results of the second election will be confirmed.

THE CANDIDATES:

ALEXANDER STUBB

The 55-year-old, multilingual presidential front-runner Alexander Stubb of the National Coalition Party is known as a pro-European cosmopolitan, who previously served as prime minister and foreign minister and as a member of the European Parliament.

In 2017, Stubb left Finnish politics to become vice president of the European Investment Bank and later director at the European University Institute in Florence, before returning to contest the presidential election.

PEKKA HAAVISTO

Liberal Pekka Haavisto, a Green League member and former United Nations diplomat, has run for president twice before, in 2012 and 2018, both times finishing second behind retiring President Sauli Niinisto.

The 65-year-old centre-left front-runner Haavisto served as Finland’s foreign minister from 2019 to 2023 and held other ministerial positions before that. If elected, Haavisto would become Finland’s first openly gay president. REUTERS



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