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Halla-aho announces presidential candidacy

The Speaker of Parliament and former Finns Party chair is an immigration hardliner with a conviction for hate speech.

Jussi Halla-aho Valtiosalissa.
Image: Silja Viitala / Yle
Yle News

Parliamentary speaker and former Finns Party leader Jussi Halla-aho announced on Friday afternoon that he is running for president.

He made the announcement via a pre-recorded YouTube video posted to his Twitter account.

Halla-aho, 52, was elected as Speaker of Parliament two weeks ago. He led the Finns Party from 2017 to 2021. He is known for his tough stance and language on immigration, which have led to convictions for hate speech.

In his video message, Halla-aho noted that he has received a considerable amount of publicity over his past decade and a half in politics.

"I'm sure everyone has some kind of image of me, for some it's obviously very bad, but I hope that in the next six months there will be opportunities to correct that image, at least from my point of view, to better reflect reality," he said.

"Freedom of thought and political freedom of action are very important fundamental issues for me and for the Finns Party," he added.

The Finns Party, now led by Finance Minister Riikka Purra, is to nominate its presidential candidate at a party congress to be held 12-13 August in Tampere.

Purra said on Friday that she had encouraged Halla-aho to seek the party's presidential nod.

Haavisto and Rehn lead polls

Halla-aho placed fourth in Yle's latest presidential poll with six percent support.

According to recent surveys, the front-runners for next year's race are ex-foreign minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) and Bank of Finland Governor Olli Rehn, a former Centre Party MP. Other announced candidates include MP Harry Harkimo (Movement Now), former Centre chair Paavo Väyrynen and Saara Huhtasaari (Freedom Alliance), the sister of former Finns Party presidential candidate Laura Huhtasaari.

Finnish presidents are elected by direct vote for a maximum of two consecutive six-year terms. Sauli Niinistö, 74, has held the post since March 2012.

Candidate applications for next year's election must be submitted by 12 December. Advance voting in Finland is 17-23 January ahead of election day proper, 28 January. If no candidate collects more than 50 percent half of the vote, a run-off election will be held on 11 February.

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