The ongoing Finnish presidential election is already historical. Due to the Green Party’s candidate Pekka Haavisto. When Haavisto and Sauli Niinistö from the National Coalition Party went to the second round, it was in fact the first time since 1982 the president will not be a Social Democrat. Neither has a Green Party candidate ever gone to the second round in a Finnish presidential election, nor has an openly homosexual candidate run for president.
Niinistö has been the biggest favourite to become the next president in Finland many years before the election in 2012. Still in autumn 2011, the polls showed that Niinistö would directly be elected to President and no second round would be needed. At the same time, Haavisto had started his campaign and with some 5 per cent support in the opinion polls. At the moment, when there are four days left to the second round vote, Haavisto is up to 37 per cent against Niinistö’s 63 per cent.
Never has a presidential election engaged the Finns as the ongoing one. Social media might be the biggest reason for Pekka Haavisto’s success in the first round. Not only has his Facebook group over 100 000 followers but also a big amount of non-party members has been campaigning for Haavisto in rather unconventional ways. Some examples are organizing a Pekka-party, making a YouTube film with Lego characters and gathering a flash mob on the railway station. The most visible one was a music concert on Finland’s biggest sports arena where one of the participants was a popular music group from the 00´s that made a comeback for one night.
The homosexuality of Haavisto has been a big topic in the Finnish coffee shops. The fact that his boyfriend is a 20-year younger hairdresser from Ecuador has also contributed to the phenomena that also the candidate spouses have been strongly exposed in the media. After the success of the far-right True Finns in the latest parliamentary election, many Finns were worried about the reputation of Finland as a modern and open-minded country. Now it seems like the liberal Finland has spoken, whether it’s Haavisto or Niinistö that will be the next president.