Alexander Stubb is Finnish-Swedish, conservative and open to stationing nuclear weapons in Finland. He becomes accessible on social media.

Alexander Stubb as a participant in a sporting event.

Sports: Alexander Stubb at the World Triathlon Championships in Finland in August 2023 Photo: Pepe Korteniemi/Lehtikuva/imago

SEDAN taz | He knows how to make banana pancakes inside out and the Finns also know that after this election campaign: Alexander Stubb has achieved his goal and will be the new president of the Republic of Finland. The 55-year-old succeeds the popular Sauli Niinistö, during whose second term Finland joined NATO.

Of course, the long border with Russia and the question of how best to protect it were also a central issue in this election campaign; In Finland, foreign and security policy falls to the president. Stubb was able to plausibly justify the fact that he was up to the task based on his many years of experience in international politics. His phone book is full of contacts all over the world, after four years in the European Parliament and eight years as a minister, he said on Finnish television Yle. In fact, Stubb not only served as Finnish Foreign Minister, later Minister of Europe and Foreign Trade, for the conservative coalition party in several governments, but also served as Prime Minister for almost a year in 2014.

Finland's newly crowned 13th president, married to British lawyer Suzanne Innes-Stubb, will take office on March 1. In addition to Finnish and Swedish, he also speaks English, French and German; He is not Russian, unlike Putin expert Niinistö.

On the question of whether NATO troops should be stationed in Finland, Stubb showed during the election campaign Finnish confidence in military matters: He would welcome the troops, he said. However, he still sees Finland as the main player in its own defense.

Nuclear weapons possible in Finland, says Stubb

The country has never abolished conscription and, unlike Germany, for example, considers its own capabilities to be good. The threat from the east also united the Finns in a relatively peaceful election campaign, but a difference with the red-green candidate Pekka Haavisto, who was narrowly defeated on Sunday, could still lead to arguments: Stubb had been open on the issue whether Finland would allow nuclear weapons to be placed on its territory in the future.

Alexander Stubb and his wife Suzanne Innes-Stubb casting their vote.

I'm no fan of Russia: Alexander Stubb and his wife Suzanne Innes-Stubb cast their vote on February 11 Photo: Sergei Grits/ap

However, the biggest challenge for the intelligent, urban man in the election campaign was not to demonstrate his professional competence. It was more important to counter his reputation for being too arrogant. He was aware of the prejudice that he was a typical Finnish Swede, which is historically associated with elitist behavior. Stubb stressed more than once that he did not see himself as a Finnish Swede, but as someone who grew up bilingual. He grew up “normally”.

This “normal” certainly consisted of a high school diploma in Swedish and international degrees. And in the sporting field he almost became a professional golfer. He continued to be an athlete and as a triathlete he completed, among other things, the Ironman in Hawaii. His last job: professor at the European University Institute in Florence.

Another word against accusations of arrogance that Stubb often used on the campaign trail: empathy. It is important for him to be empathetic. There are still Finns who do not trust him to put himself in the shoes of the poorest, but he was elected anyway. Maybe that made pancakes for a tabloid video.Ilta Sanomat contributed.