Former Prime Minister Alexander Stubb won Finland's presidential election runoff on Sunday against ex-Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto in a close race between two experienced politicians for the post of head of state. His main task will be to steer the Nordic country's foreign and security policy now that it is a member of NATO, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the AP reports. With over 99% of votes counted, center-right candidate Stubb of the conservative National Coalition Party had received 51.6% of the votes, while independent candidate Haavisto from the green drew 48.4%.
The 55-year-old Stubb, who was prime minister in 2014-2015 and started his political career as a lawmaker at the European Parliament, will become the 13th president of Finland since its independence from the Russian empire in 1917. Haavisto conceded defeat after a projection by the Finnish public broadcaster YLE showing a win for Stubb. He shook Stubb's hand and congratulated him at Helsinki City Hall, where the candidates and the media were watching the results come in. Stubb and Haavisto, 65, were the main contenders in the election where over 4 million eligible voters picked a successor to hugely popular President Sauli Niinistö, whose second six-year term expires in March. He wasn't eligible for reelection.