News / Europe

Finland Getting First Conservative President in 30 Years

Sauli Niinisto the National Coalition party candidate for the Finnish presidential election campaigns in Helsinki on Saturday Feb. 4, 2012.
Sauli Niinisto the National Coalition party candidate for the Finnish presidential election campaigns in Helsinki on Saturday Feb. 4, 2012.

Conservative party leader Sauli Niinistoe has won Finland's presidential election by a landslide and will become the country's first conservative president in 30 years.

Officials say Mr. Niinistoe, of the National Coalition Party, won 63 percent of the vote in Sunday's second round.  Green party candidate Pekka Haavisto won 37 percent.

They were the top vote-getters in the first round two weeks ago.

Mr. Niinistoe is a former Finnish finance minister.  He is a conservative, but backs cooperation with the European Union.  Many in Finland demand the wealthy country stop supporting EU economic bailouts for troubled members.

Mr. Niinistoe will be Finland's first president in three decades to come from a party other than the left-wing Social Democrats.  He is replacing President Tarja Halonen, who was not allowed to run again after completing two six-year terms.

The Finnish presidency is a largely ceremonial post, but does take charge of foreign affairs.

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