It’s runoff time

Update: Corrected Tarja Halonen’s total vote percentage.

The preliminary count in the Finnish presidential elections is finished with the following results:

Candidate Total votes Votes short of next* Pre-poll
pos %
∗Tarja Halonen 1,396,161 46,3 % not applicable 1st 52
Sauli Niinistö 725,213 24,1 % 670,948 48 % 2nd 20
Matti Vanhanen 561,556 18.6 % 163,657 23 % 3rd 18
Heidi Hautala 105,086 3.5 % 456,470 81 % 4th 4
Timo Soini 103,368 3.4 % 1,718 2 % 4th 4
Bjarne Kallis 61,458 2.0 % 41,910 41 % 6th 1
Henrik Lax 48,639 1.6 % 12,819 21 % 6th 1
Arto Lahti 13,041 0.4 % 35,598 73 % 6th 1

* The difference between the current candidate and the next (upward) candidate on the list, in votes and as a percentage of the next (upward) candidate’s votes.
The result of the last opinion poll published before the election, commissioned by YLE and conducted by phone between 10th and 11th of January. The margin for error is 2,5 %-points for Halonen and decreases when the percentage decreases.

Since the incumbent failed to reach majority, a runoff election will be held on the 29th of January between the two best placed candidates (starred). A remarkable fact is the low number of votes that the independent candidate Arto Lahti received, for he had to get at least 20,000 people to sign their name in favour of his candidacy, while he received only 65 % of that number in votes.

It is very likely that both runoff candidates retain the votes they received today. What decides the runoff election is how the rest of the voters behave. As a quick and dirty Stetson–Harrison estimate, most of Vanhanen, Kallis and Lax’s spporters are likely to vote for Niinistö, while most of Hautala’s supporters are likely to vote for Halonen. Assuming that the “most”s cancel each other (an assumption that probably favours Niinistö), this yields an additional 22.2 %-points for Niinistö (total 46.3 %) and 3.5 %-points for Halonen (total 49.8 %). Hence it would seem that Halonen has the upper hand in runoff.

A few words on each of the eight candidates, in reverse order of popularity, follows.

Arto Lahti (b. 1949) is a professor of entrepeneurship and has experience in various positions in the private sector. He has no prior political experience and is not affiliated with a political party.

Henrik Lax (b.1946) is a Member of the European Parliament since 2004, representing the liberal Swedish People’s Party. He was a Member of the national Parliament 1987–2004. Prior to his political career, he had been a lawyer.

Bjarne Kallis (b.1945) is a Member of Parliament since 1991, representing the party currently called Christian Democrats. He has chaired his party since 1995. For most of his non-political professional life he has been a teacher and later principal in a business school.

Timo Soini (b. 1962) is a Member of Parliament since 2003, representing the right-wing populist True Finns party. He has chaired his party since 1997, which he cofounded in 1995; prior to that, he was an active member of the since-dissolved Finnish Agrarian Party.

Heidi Hautala (b. 1955) is a Member of Parliament since 2003 and before that 1991–1995. She was a Member of the European Parliament 1995–2003. She represents the evironmental-liberal Green League, a party she cofounded and later chaired 1987–1991.

Matti Vanhanen (b. 1955) is Prime Minister since 2003, representing the liberal Centre Party. He previously served as Minister of Defense in 2003. He has been a Member of Parliament since 1991. He has chaired his party since 2003.

Sauli Niinistö (b. 1948) is currently a Director at the European Investment Bank. He served as Minister of Justice 1995–1996 and Minister of Finance 1996–2003. He was a Member of Parliament 1987–2003. He represents the liberal-conservative National Coalition party, which he chaired 1994–2001. Prior to his political career, he worked as a lawyer.

Tarja Halonen (b. 1943) is the incumbent, Her Excellency the President of the Republic of Finland since 2000. Prior to her presidency, she was a member of the Social Democrat Party and had served as Minister of Social Affairs and Health 1987–1990, Minister of Nordic Cooperation 1989–1991, Minister of Justice 1990–1991 and Minister of Foreign Affairs 1995–2000. She was a Member of Parliament 1979–2000. Prior to her political career, she worked as a lawyer in a labor union.

3 thoughts on “It’s runoff time

  1. Hi AJT,
    here is the US, I was alerted to this election by the fact that the American talk show host Conan O’Brian was making humorous skits on his talk show and IIUC political commericals for/about Tarja Halonen. Would you include the influence of Conan O’Brian as something to tilt the election in her favor?
    Cheers,
    Kev

  2. Anthony Towns’ (AJT) blog is thataway :)

    The O’Brien Halonen stuff has been major news here, and the Halonen campaign has been advertising heavily in connection with the Late Night with Conan O’Brien showings. Despite that, I don’t think it has had much of an impact. People recognize it’s a joke.

    You should realize that Halonen’s opinion poll percentages never went below 50 % prior to the election. So, if anyhting, the Halonen campaign attachment to the O’Brien jokes has probably alienated a few voters as overboard.

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