By Enrique Tessieri
Finns go to the polls today vote elect their next president. Opinion polls reveal that Kokoomus’ Sauli Niinistö is the front-runner followed by a close neck-and-neck race between Pekka Haavisto of the Greens and Paavo Väyrynen of the Center Party.
The second group that are fighting it out for fourth spot according to a YLE poll are Perussuomalaiset (PS) party hopeful Timo Soini, Left Alliances’ Paavo Arhimäki and Paavo Lipponen of the Social Democratic Party.
After the PS historic election victory on April 17, falling behind Arhimäki or Lipponen would be seen as a big loss for Soini. It would reinforce the wear-and-tear that the PS has suffered nine months after the election due to numerous scandals that have exposed the racism, homophobia and anti-democratic credentials of some of its MPs.
One of the biggest disappointments of the presidential campaign has been tackling and debating the hard challenges that Finland faces: budget cuts and the future of the welfare state, growing income and social inequality, racism and the polarization of Finnish society.
One of the matters that concerned me in particular about the front-runner Niinistö was his view that the far right did not pose a threat to Finland, according to an MTV3 poll of the candidates.
After 8pm local time we’ll be a bit wiser about who are the victors and losers of the presidential election.
One matter is for certain, however: the election will not be a cliffhanger like last year’s parliamentary election.