Conservative Anti-Russia Candidate Triumphs in Finnish Presidential Election

Conservative Anti-Russia Candidate Triumphs in Finnish Presidential Election

Alexander Stubb, a prominent figure in Finland’s political landscape and a former prime minister, emerged victorious in the country’s presidential election held on Sunday (11). The heated contest was pushed to the second round where Stubb, a representative of the National Coalition Party — a party that leans towards the center-right political spectrum — won by securing 51.6% of the total vote count. His opponent from the center-left Green Party was narrowly defeated, securing 48.4% of the votes.

Situated in Scandinavia, Finland’s president assumes the role of the head of foreign policy and the armed forces. The timing of Stubb’s ascent to the presidential office comes amidst a tumultuous period marked by heightened tensions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Geographically, Finland occupies a strategic position as it shares its border with the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This borderland nation is subjected to the iron-fisted rule of Vladimir Putin.

The ongoing war served as a catalyst for Stubb’s return to politics following a seven-year hiatus. His victory was marked by a profound statement, “we must remember that one of the president’s main duties is to ensure that Finland promotes peace, which is what I will do as president.” His commitment to peace signals his intent and approach to his presidential tenure.

Stubb succeeds Sauli Niinistö, a member from his own party, who is concluding his second six-year term — the maximum tenure permitted by Finland’s laws. Niinistö’s legacy includes a significant decision to make Finland a NATO member in April of the previous year.

Born and raised in the western region of Helsinki, the capital city, Stubb was exposed to a bilingual environment at home — Finnish from his father and Swedish from his mother. Swedish is spoken by a substantial minority of the Finnish population.

Stubb’s political journey began two decades ago when he first held a seat in the European Parliament. He was later appointed as the Minister of Foreign Affairs and served terms as the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. Despite announcing his retirement from politics in 2017, he made a comeback.

Stubb, who was known for his abrasive nature — a trait uncommon amongst Finns — and his apology for using profanity in an official meeting, surprised voters in the recent election with his mature demeanor and cordiality towards his opponents.

He has also expressed a more assertive stance on military matters, indicating his willingness to house nuclear weapons on Finnish soil if deemed necessary. Local political analysts predict that Stubb’s hard-line stance against Russia could trigger provocations from the Kremlin.

Stubb is set to begin his term on March 1st. Overwhelmed by his election victory, he expressed his gratitude, stating, “It’s the greatest honor of my life.”

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