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Candidates Gear Up for Second Round Contest

The campaigns of the two remaining candidates in the presidential election will swing into high gear immediately. Preliminary voting in the second round will begin as early as Wednesday January 18, with the final vote due on January 29.

In light of the outcome, prominent political commentator Professor Emeritus Tuomo Martikainen told YLE's morning television program that this could be an opportunity for non-socialist voters to usher their own candidate into the presidency. Martikainen had already predicted that Tarja Halonen would not sail through to victory in the first round.

Meanwhile Social Democrat candidate Tarja Halonen will disclose her continuation strategy on Monday. If voter turnout remains constant, Halonen would need 100,000 more votes to secure a second term in office.

The election camp of National Coalition Party's Sauli Niinistö is expected to open discussions with Centre Party supporters as it prepares for the final lap of the race to the presidency.

First round runners-up Matti Vanhanen of the Centre Party, Henrik Lax of the Swedish people's Party, and Bjarne Kallis of the Christian Democrats have already signalled their support for Sauli Niinistö in the second round.

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