Not Quite Forever
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Former right-leaning Prime Minister Alexander Stubb won a closely fought presidential election run-off on Sunday, the first election held since the country joined the NATO alliance last year, the BBC reported.
Stubb, from the ruling National Coalition Party (NCP), earned 51.6 percent of the vote, defeating former Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto from the Green Party in an election closely monitored by transatlantic allies and Europe. Finland’s long eastern border also serves as the European Union’s and NATO’s frontier with Russia.
The president-elect previously served as foreign minister from 2008 to 2011, then prime minister in 2014. His term was marked by his high-energy approach to governing, and hasty comments that drew criticism. Having lost the 2015 general election, he quit politics two years later, saying he was done forever.
The launch of Russia’s war on Ukraine in February 2022, however, motivated Stubb to make a surprise comeback, Politico wrote. He entered the race for the presidency with a softened demeanor, though he stood out by his hardline approach toward Moscow.
Recognizing he didn’t envisage any dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin, he added, “We all want to find a pathway toward peace, but it seems to me that that pathway happens only through the battlefield at the moment.”
Analysts warned that Stubb’s inauguration could be marred by intimidation attempts from the Kremlin, including airspace incursions or cyberattacks.
On March 1, he will officially succeed incumbent Sauli Niinistö as head of state, a position that brings the foreign affairs and security briefs as well as the title of commander-in-chief.
Niinistö, also from the NCP, gained domestic and international popularity after leading Finland into NATO in April last year, navigating through tricky negotiations with Turkey and Hungary, which were initially opposed to opening the doors to Finland and Sweden.
Stubb said that he wanted to bring together Finnish society, following a series of government scandals and strikes in the public sector.