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January-30-06

Finland's First Female President Elected to Second Term

Finland President Tarja Halonen, a political leftist, won reelection over the conservative Sauli Niinisto by a small margin in a runoff vote held Sunday. Halonen will serve another 6 years, where her primary role will continue to be shaping the Baltic countryís foreign policy. It is expected that Halonen will continue her policy of non-alignment and neutrality, reports the Financial Times.

The runoff became necessary when Halonen earned only 46 percent of the first round vote, while Niinisto won 24 percent, according to the Associated Press. Halonenís victory in the second round was by such a slim margin that she would not accept her win with 80 percent of the vote counted and her opponentís concession, reports Reuters. According to the AP, Halonen won 51.8 percent of the runoff vote and Niinisto earned 48.2 percent, with 77 percent of the countryís eligible voters voting.

According to the AP, it is the prime ministerís role, and not the presidentís, to attend to all aspects of national politics. However, the presidential runoff carries greater weight than it might ordinarily, as does the victory of Halonenís Social Democratic Party, because Finland is slated to assume the presidency of the European Union in July, as Professor Tuomo Martikainen of Helsinki University told the Financial Times. The AP reports that, even though presidents must forgo their party ties once elected, every Finnish president from 1982 to the present has come out of the Social Democratic Party.

Media Resources: AP 1/29/06; Financial Times 1/30/06; Reuters 1/29/06

   

     

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