UPDATE: (Almost) no cliffhangers in today's presidential election in Finland except for one

by , under All categories, Enrique

By Enrique Tessieri

With all of the votes counted, the presidential election went pretty much as the polls had predicted. Kokoomus’ Sauli Niinistö, the front-runner, won with37.0%. Second place was a head-and-head race, a semi-cliffhanger,  with Pekka Haavisto of the Greens (18.8%) beating  Paavo Väyrynen of the Center Party (17.5%).

The result means that there will be a second round on February 5 since no candidate got over 50% of the votes.

Contrary to the April 17 election, when the Perussuomalaiset (PS) party obtained  its historic victory thanks to anti-EU and anti-immigration sentiment, the presidential election went in the opposite direction. The two anti-EU candidates, Väyrynen and PS’ Timo Soini (9.4%), came in third and fourth place, respectively.

Apart from voters giving the thumbs down to Soini, the PS has been hurt by numerous scandals in the media that have exposed the racismhomophobia and anti-democratic credentials of some of its MPs.

The other loser was the left. Paavo Lipponen of the Social Democrats got 6.7% of the votes with Paavo Arhimäki of the Left Alliance gaining 5.5%.

The candidates that came in seventh and eight place were Swedish People’s Party hopeful Eva Biaudet, who got 2.7%, while Sari Essayah of the Christian Democrats got 2.5%.

  1. Question

    “After the PS historic election victory on April 17, falling behind Arhimäki or Lipponen would be seen as a big loss for Soini”

    But he did not so that make him the winner against the openly anti PS candidates..

    He may have come fourth but no one would disagree that for Timo to become the President would be a disaster for PS.

  2. Question

    Does that now show that having a campaign where part of it is openly against PS will not get you enough support even to overtake PS. The Greens may not like PS but they could see the futility of that so they decided not to go down that path.

    Timo may have come fourth and of course wanted a few more percentage points but it was more to do with his and PS long term ambitions and not anything to with rejection of their views

  3. Jonas

    Just wondering why you write that “the two women candidates shared last place”? Is it because they are women you place them together? They don’t have the same number of votes, so they don’t share their final positioning in this election. Eva Biaudet came clearly one place above Sari Essayah with more than 6 800 more votes than her. Eva Biaudet has 2,7% of the vote, Essayah 2,5%.

    • Enrique

      –Just wondering why you write that “the two women candidates shared last place”? Is it because they are women you place them together?

      No, Jonas, I placed them together because they came in last place. I changed the sentence, though.

  4. Allan

    A real “thumbs down” for Soini coming in fourth? Really, what about Lipponen then? Now if people really had wanted to get Soini out of the picture, they would have voted for him, as then he’d been “out of the picture” as he is the primus motor of the PS.

    If this would reflect somehow the party vote, then if I was Jugner I’d be chewing a cyanide pill… seriously, has a SDP candidate been that low… ever???

    It is a “personal vote” by far, and now it seems Haavisto is the media favorite. The media naturally roots for Haavisto, as Mr President & First Gent would sell by far more papers than Niinistö who is notoriously droll.The campaigning is going to be interesting, as the two will need to gain votes off the Väyrynen & Soini crowd. The Arhinmäki & Biaudet votes will probably draw towards Haavisto, Essayahs crowd to Niinistö. Options of kingmaking are, if the anti-EU crowd stays home to sleep or if they join the rally against one candidate.

    Let the circus begin.

    • Enrique

      Allan, the “jytky” that Soini ceremoniously acclaimed on April 17 has turned into a “counter-jytky.” It’s pretty clear that the momentum that Soini had got in the April election would have sent him to the second round. The other loser was Paavo Lipponen. It’s one of the worst showings ever. So the biggest losers: anti-EU candidates (Väyrynen and Soini) and the left (especially Lipponen).

      For how long have we had Social Democratic presidents in Finland? Since 1982? That makes 30 years!

  5. Question

    Even if PS voters did not vote for Timo en mass he still out voted those candidates who where taking a anti PS line to gain votes.

    If one thing came out this election which you should now learn is that taking a openly anti PS line will not gain you enough votes to launch a serious challenge against PS as it is now obvious that only a few percent of voters will agree with you

    At the end of the day PS are not a presidential party and its already been said that the municipal elections will be their real test as that is where their first electoral breakthrough came from and its that kind of politics where their votes feel connected with them. And not in some presidential palace

  6. Allan

    Most people who would vote for PS otherwise voted for Väyrynen, just because he had a realistic chance to go onto the 2nd round. Its all tactics, its now more who do you vote against, rather than whom do you vote for.

    After the result your favorite MP James Hirvisaari blogged “I wouldn’t have dreamt of a day I’d be voting for a green gay for president”… so he is voting against Niinistö’s EU federalism, not for Haavisto’s liberal agenda.

  7. Question

    But you also forget that Niinistö to counter the anti eu voices was also taking a line where his support for the eu was not as loyal as that of Lipponen

    As a policy the anti eu voices actually where winners as its clear now that PS votes in the election where not just a protest but a genuine rejection of the eu which is a policy reshaping Finnish politics

    And he is still is a member of a political party which runs a government which may be forced to contribute to the euro bailout fund even more because of Finland’s AAA rating which if happens could bring down the government .

  8. khr

    The presidential elections are primarily about the person rather than the party of the candidate. (Personally I have voted candidates of parties I would not otherwise vote; or even a candidate that didn’t share my opinions as well as the other just because I thought he/she’d make a better president. Today’s numbers confirm it’s not unusual – the coalition party has not suddenly gained over 30% support, nor do I believe social democrats having under 10% support).

    I suspect many PS voters chose to vote someone else than Soini because they considered him too important to PS (there’s no-one at the moment that could really take his place, so “losing” him to presidency would be a serious blow to the party, despite the advertisement value). Some expected votes would also leak due to personality preferences, or trying to get the second best candidate to the next round (Väyrynen, most likely, for PS voters).

    To see whether “counter-jytky” happens, we’ll need to wait for the next elections where the party is the primary interest. That would be the local elections later this year.

  9. Question

    The key point of this election was that a candidate whose supporters where not really interested in this election still finished ahead of three candidates whose campaign had a anti PS line and was fought to win. Had PS supporters taken this election seriously Timo Soini would have finished ahead buy a huge amount. Which goes to show the failure of the anti PS vote in elections

    I should not gloat but I will enjoy this day

  10. Mark

    Question

    – “The key point of this election was that a candidate whose supporters where not really interested in this election still finished ahead of three candidates whose campaign had a anti PS line and was fought to win.”

    And how many times are you going to say this on this thread? Twenty? So this is the official PS line of spin during and after the election. Of course, it’s utter hogwosh.

    None of the parties were ‘pro-PS’ except of course PS. So you can assume that all the other candidates were ‘anti-PS’ and pro-themselves. So stop that bloody nonsense.

    In terms of debate, Lipponen did try to make some good points, but his was always a lost cause anyway, and his lack of support is not an endorsement of PS but a reflection of his unpopularity as a politician.

    PS would have loved to have Soini as president. Otherwise, why would he even bother to run. How you can turn a less than 10% support, which intrepreted according to the last election would be a halving of the support, as some kind of victory is beyond me. Anyhow, so the spinners come out and try to spin it as something good.

    And what the fuck does it say about PS that even the PS supporters are saying that PS would be fucked without Soini? That they are a one-man brigade? As a political party, this tells you what a bunch of absolute jokers they are!

  11. Allan

    Mark, you obviously have no clue how politics go in this country do you?

    OK, so Soini got 9,4% of the vote. Now as far as Lipponen and Bidet go, they “proclaimed” of being the “anti-PS” movement, and didn’t get much to sing about. Though compared to the last Presidential elections the PS, KD & RKP made significant gains as opposed to SDP’s dismal numbers. That is – last Presidential Elections.

    Now the Greens and Centre are rejoicing of their “support” and Kokoomus is being smug, but if you look at the candidates: Katainen hates Niinisto’s guts and wants him shelved form making trouble. Vayrynen got personality votes rather than party votes, and Haavisto actually has a brain and practices what he preches instead of being a green ecofascist, so him getting the position is a win-win as nephew Niinisto’s Greens are still thinking that electricity comes from the socket and money from the wall.

    Haavisto is a “generation change” candidate, also showing the finger to the “establishment”. Thats why I voted for him, Soini I want as prime minister.

  12. Question

    Lipponen Arhinmäki and Biaudet where openly making comments about PS being racist xenophobic in a attempt to gain votes as presenting themselves as the party to vote for if you share the same views as us. Their vote count in the election shows that taking that view is not a vote winner as the numbers are against them. When you have three different candidates all saying the same thing and all three can not gain a serious number of votes and end finishing behind the person and party those comments where aimed at shows the problem is not the person but the view

    I did explain that trying to stop PS with phrases like Racist and Xenophobic where a complete waste of time. But did you listen ?

    If you asked PS supporters would like Timo as president or prime minster which one would they want more? Its no surprise that his support dropped when it really showed that he could go into the second round. Timo is being kept for the big prize of being prime minster and him being president would be the biggest disaster for PS so far

    PS are not a one man party but Timo is the main draw and therefore a serious vote catch and its only right that Timo who made PS into what it is today should always be considered as first choice for running as prime minster

    If you want the believe that PS where serious about making Timo Soini president and his fourth place was a reflection of voter rejection go ahead. But you will need to build a big wall around that belief because it will come under attack from the weapon of reality.

  13. Mark

    Allan

    No problem with your general analysis, except this:

    – “Though compared to the last Presidential elections the PS, KD & RKP made significant gains as opposed to SDP’s dismal numbers. That is – last Presidential Elections.”

    Why would you want to compare to the last presidential election? It’s a bit like saying that congressional or senate elections in the US had no relevance to Presidential elections – of course they do.

    A presidential election like a general election is a ‘national referendum’ that has strong political dimensions. Of course we are going to compare PS’s 9% showing with their previous national election result.

    Ergo – PS support appears to have bombed!!!!!!! lol

  14. Mark

    Question

    – “Their vote count in the election shows that taking that view [anti-PS] is not a vote winner as the numbers are against them. ”

    Question, it’s generally taken for granted by most political and poll watchers that immigration is not an issue that single-handedly decides the vote of a great many people. In that sense, it’s highly unlikely that a purely anti-PS stance is going to win anyone’s vote. If anything, making a point of attacking Soini marginalises one’s own votiing base, because it puts you in the same camp, i.e. those that will poll less than 10%. It’s like picking a fight with someone the same size. And for that reason, the popular candidates didn’t want to get into a slugging match with PS for the same reason – they also want to pick up support in the second round of voting from PS voters. Hence Haavisto was happy to get Halla-aho’s support, I’m sure.

  15. khr

    “It’s a bit like saying that congressional or senate elections in the US had no relevance to Presidential elections – of course they do.”

    Finland is not USA, and the dynamics of presidential elections are different. In USA the voting follows usually closely the party lines, probably because the president wields significant power. In Finland, on the other hand, the results typically differ wildly from the party support. So it’s possible for a candidate of a small party to rise to become a serious contender, like Haavisto is now, or for the candidate of a large party to flunk completely, like Lipponen did.

    Party matters, but I would not make hasty conclusions about changes in their support based on the presidential elections. (My guess would be that PS support is currently slightly below what it was in parliament elections, but significantly above Soini’s results).

    • Enrique

      –Finland is not USA, and the dynamics of presidential elections are different.

      Certainly the presidential election on Sunday will impact the PS. Look at it this way, a worst-case scenario for some: Timo Soini takes second place and almost beats Niinstö. Now how would that impact the party’s bid in the municipal election in October? A lot, I would think. The most important matter to keep in mind that Soini and the PS failed to come through with the anti-EU stand. I personally believe that months of scandals in the media (racism, homophobia and neo-Nazi membership) did not help the party.

      We have said before on Migrant Tales that the biggest enemy of the PS isn’t the other parties but the party members themselves.

  16. Question

    They took too much of anti PS line without being aware that the numbers of people who would vote for them simply to show their rejection of PS is not there.But as PS where not interested in the election their target could have been to gain a better result than the three parties who openly opposed to them which they did. So PS are more likely to gain a better vote in support for them when their is a a party or parties who are running a PS No campaign

    I think what happened shows that Finland does have only one space for one openly anti PS party even then taking that line still is no guarantee of success . Its already been said that in the local elections and parliamentary elections The Greens and Vasen can not both survive as two strong political parties one has to go

  17. Mark

    Thanks KHR. I’ll bear that in mind, as you make good points.

    Question

    – “So PS are more likely to gain a better vote in support for them when their is a a party or parties who are running a PS No campaign.”

    You seem to assume that anyone who voted for the ‘anti-PS’ candidates did so only because they opposed PS policies, and likewise, you seem to assume that anyone who voted for the PS candidate automatically did so because they supported PS’s policies. As KHR has pointed out above with some validity, this kind of assumption is probably too simplistic.

    I think the idea that PS somehow invites other parties to ‘oppose’ them is probably making too much of PS. Generally, you go after the most popular, unless they are far ahead in the polls, in which case you scrap for second place, hoping that support top dog somehow implodes, and you will come out as the best of the rest.

  18. Question

    But its not their campaign was being too anti PS but the nature of it. Trying to gain support by mud slinging PS has been shown by three separate candidates not to be a vote winning technic. The Greens reluctance to go down to that level was not just due to the possibility of losing votes in they where to achieve second round but also they could be a party that challenges and gives an alternative to PS instead of resulting to mud slinging.

    • Enrique

      Question, we have to thank politicians like Paavo Lipponen for exposing and bringing to light the anti-democratic and far-right elements in the PS. This was done as well by Eva Biaudet and Paavo Arhimäki. Special thanks go to the high school students of Järvenpää exposed Soini’s good-cop-bad-cop strategy, which showed his support for candidates who support racism and far-right policies.

  19. Mark

    Question

    That is no surprise. Any campaign that gets bogged down in attacking an opponent as opposed to putting out their own values and policies is going to suffer. It’s not got a lot to do with the politics of it, but the impression it gives. Also, it’s a big stretch to say that their lack of support was because of that or because they failed in convincing voters that they would make a credible president. In fact, it could just as easily by that a portion of their support was because they opposed PS, while they could also have not actually LOST any support by bashing PS but neither did they gain support.

    All these are possible, and unless you have specific polls to back up your claims, you really are pissing in the wind trying to tell us what it all means. It’s really quite difficult to interpret the results. But hey, you are an expert, obviously! 😀

  20. Mark

    Enrique

    – “We have said before on Migrant Tales that the biggest enemy of the PS isn’t the other parties but the party members themselves.”

    Ain’t that the truth. 🙂

    Also, the fact that PS supporters are openly saying that PS would be nothing without Soini shows what a bunch of cronies the PS MPs are. It’s a crony party, built around a personality cult of Soini the Prophet, based on a pantomime of policies that seek to make enemies of anyone and everyone! Just goes to show how fed up or ignorant some people are with politics that almost 1 in 10 Finns think they actually represent something credible.

    As the ‘bully in the room’, he’ll always get a lot more airtime and profiling by the media than he would otherwise enjoy based on the popular support. People are so sensitive around populist politicians in Finland – they really have no real idea how to deal with him. Same can be said for politicians all across Europe though! The tactic seems to be ignore them, or steal as many of his clothes as you dare. Bloody shame. If politicians were in touch with the everyday a bit more, then perhaps they wouldn’t struggle so much to deal with him and to contextualise his policies.

  21. Question

    You seem to assume that anyone who voted for the ‘anti-PS’ candidates did so only because they opposed PS policies, and likewise, you seem to assume that anyone who voted for the PS candidate automatically did so because they supported PS’s policies

    Lipponen even said he had entered the election race to oppose PS Arhinmäki and Biaudet where never going to come even close of even getting to the second round so for them it was a excuse to exercise their PS views and for anyone who has serious anti PS views then you vote for a person like them and for them the target was to achieve more votes than PS as a way to show we have more support.
    And even if people did not vote PS as to out vote the likes of Lipponen but they voted for Soini because they supported him does that show that even without trying they can still gain more votes than the likes Lipponen.
    Which shows that his and Arhinmäki and Biaudet election where seriously flawed .

    From another blog:
    After the PS historic election victory on April 17, falling behind Arhimäki or Lipponen would be seen as a big loss for Soini”

  22. Question

    Question, we have to thank politicians like Paavo Lipponen for exposing and bringing to light the anti-democratic and far-right elements in the PS. This was done as well by Eva Biaudet and Paavo Arhimäki

    So why did they not get any support from this??

  23. Question

    I said there would be a split within the anti populist groups

    If the Greens are to be a party that challenges PS whilst the parties like Vansen and RKP continue with extreme mud slinging… then I was right

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