February 7, 2012

Finns vote to stick with the EU

Filed under: Europe, Government — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 10:48

A summary of the recent presidential election results in Finland, from The Economist:

Those who argued that Finland is fast becoming a Eurosceptic country that is against the country’s membership of the European single currency, the euro, have been proved wrong by its presidential election. The run-off on February 5th was contested between the two most pro-European candidates. Timo Soini, leader of the anti-euro True Finns, which took a spectacular 18% of the vote in the general election last April, was humiliatingly pushed out in the first round. The winner, Sauli Niinisto, a former centre-right finance minister, took 63% of the vote to 37% for the loser, Pekka Haavisto of the Greens (who was also the first openly gay candidate for the post).

Mr Niinisto declares himself to be firmly in the pro-EU, pro-euro camp—indeed, as finance minister he helped get the country into the euro in the first place. That matters because the Finnish presidency is more than a ceremonial post, especially in foreign policy, even if recent constitutional changes have made it weaker than it once was. Most power, especially in domestic issues, rests with the government, a cumbersome six-party coalition led by Jyrki Katainen, the conservative prime minister. The arrival in the presidential palace of Mr Niinisto, a fellow conservative, will strengthen Mr Katainen’s hand. Yet strains within the coalition, which was designed largely to keep the True Finns out of power, are likely to persist.

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