AAlexander Stubb narrowly won the runoff election for the office of president in Finland. According to the preliminary results from Sunday evening, Stubb (National Coalition Party) was leading with around 51.6 percent of the vote, ahead of the country's former foreign minister, Pekka Haavisto (Greens), who had around 48.4 percent. At this point, 99.6 percent of the votes had been counted. Haavisto congratulated Stubb on his election victory that evening. “Well, Alexander, congratulations to the thirteenth president of Finland,” he said in the direction of Stubbs. “Thank you very much and good luck in your work.” Stubb said he was “happy and grateful that the Finns voted in such large numbers and that I can take on the job of President of the Republic.”

Julian Staib

Political correspondent for Northern Germany and Scandinavia based in Hamburg.

Stubb and Haavisto had left the other seven candidates behind in the first round of the presidential election two weeks ago – Stubb had achieved 27.2 percent, Haavisto 25.8. In a direct duel, Stubb was initially well ahead of Haavisto in the polls, but the gap in polls had recently narrowed to 54 percent support for Stubb and 46 percent for Haavisto.

The election campaign was dominated by the issue of security and defense. Both candidates largely agreed on this. The only differences were the question of the possible stationing of nuclear weapons (currently prohibited by Finnish law).

Stubb had been open about this topic, Haavisto had refused to be stationed. Most recently, the current President Sauli Niinistö – actually a party friend of Stubbs – spoke out clearly against a deployment.

Niinistö was Finland's president for twelve years and led the country into NATO last year. On Wednesday he opened Parliament for the last time, which met again after the winter break. He called for more investment in defense and at the same time to reduce public debt.

At the same time, Niinistö warned at the opening of parliament that spring could bring a “tough challenge” with regard to the border with Russia. Niinistö compared the rules on international protection to a Trojan horse. Finland recently extended the closure of all border crossings with Russia until mid-April because, from Helsinki's perspective, Moscow is trying to deliberately bring migrants into the country in order to destabilize it. According to Finnish authorities, hundreds of migrants are still waiting across the border. If the snow melts, Russia could bring migrants into the country away from the crossings, according to fears in Finland.