2024 Finnish presidential election: What you need to know

Sauli Niinistö, Finland’s current president (Frank Augstein/PA) (PA Wire)
Sauli Niinistö, Finland’s current president (Frank Augstein/PA) (PA Wire)

Finland is preparing for its next presidential election, with voters heading to the polls on Sunday (January 28).

The ballot will be the latest in a record number of elections taking place around the globe in 2024.

Finland's visibility on the world stage has grown since it joined NATO in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, so leaders around the world will no doubt be watching the results of the presidential election closely.

A Verian survey has shown that support for front-runners Alexander Stubb of the centre-right National Coalition Party and liberal Green Party member Pekka Haavisto has eased ahead of Sunday's poll. Meanwhile, their nationalist Finns Party rival Jussi Halla-aho has gained more support.

How is the Finnish president elected?

A Finnish president must be a native-born Finnish citizen and be directly elected by universal suffrage for a six-year term.

To win the presidency in the first round, a candidate must receive more than 50% of ballots cast. If no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote, a second-round run-off will take place on February 11th between the top two candidates.

No president may be elected for more than two consecutive terms. This has been the rule since 1994.

When is the vote?

The vote will take place on January 28, with p​olls opening at 9am EET (7am GMT) and closing at 8pm EET (6pm GMT) on Jan. 28.

When will the results be announced?

Results from advance voting will be announced shortly after polls close on Sunday.

Full results will most likely be announced as the vote count progresses, before midnight local time (10pm GMT) on Sunday.

The first-round results will be announced on January 30.

Who are the main candidates?

Alexander Stubb

Alexander Stubb is a 55-year-old, who served as Prime Minister of Finland from 2014 to 2015 for the National Coalition Party. He is pro-European and previously served as foreign minister and a member of the European Parliament.

In 2017, Stubb left Finnish politics to become vice president of the European Investment Bank and later director at the European University Institute in Florence, before returning to contest the presidential election.

Alexander Stubb said:
Alexander Stubb said: "I think Brexit is one of the biggest travesties that we have seen in the modern era." (PA)

Pekka Haavisto

Pekka Haavisto, is a liberal, a Green League member and a former United Nations diplomat. The 65-year-old has run for president twice before, in 2012 and 2018, both times finishing second behind retiring President Sauli Niinisto.

If elected, Haavisto would become Finland's first openly gay president.

Former Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Lehtikuva/AFP via Getty Images)
Former Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Lehtikuva/AFP via Getty Images)

Jussi Halla-aho

Nationalist Jussi Halla-aho, former Finns Party leader and now parliament speaker, is known for critiquing the EU and immigration. Halla-aho was fined by the country's Supreme Court for racist remarks in 2012.

 (Lehtikuva/AFP via Getty Images)
(Lehtikuva/AFP via Getty Images)

Olli Rehn

Economist and public official Olli Rehn is a member of the Centre Party and former EU economy commissioner. He has been serving as governor of the Bank of Finland since 2018. The latest polls have placed him fourth with 12% support.

Other candidates include Social Democrat EU Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen, Christian Democrat party leader Sari Essayah, Left Alliance leader Li Andersson, academic Mika Aaltola and businessman Harry Harkimo.

Olli Rehn, Governor of the Bank of Finland and member of the Governing Council of the European Central Bank
Olli Rehn, Governor of the Bank of Finland and member of the Governing Council of the European Central Bank