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Finland heads to the polls to choose President

Sunday 28 January is election day in Finland. Citizens of the country will cast their ballots for the next Finnish President, who will serve from 1 March 2018 to 2024.

Mies kävelee presidenttiehdokkaiden vaalimainosten ohi.
Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

Finland goes to the polls this Sunday to vote for a new President for the next six-year term. Polling stations are open from 9 am to 8 pm.

Elina Auvinen recently turned 18, and this is the first presidential election in which she will be voting. For her, it is self-evident that she would use her democratic right to have a voice.

"I don't know why I wouldn't use this opportunity to make a difference in our society. I don't want someone that I feel doesn't represent our country to end up in the position just because I, or other people my age, couldn't be bothered to go vote," she says.

A student of the Puolalanmäki Upper Secondary School in the southwest city of Turku, Auvinen says that she and her friends at school have started to be really interested in political issues.

"Of course I might live in a kind of bubble at my art-emphasis school, but I don't know anyone that isn't planning to go vote. No young people, or older people either," she laughs.

She remembers going along with her parents to vote as a young girl, and although her parents didn't engage in the Finnish tradition of going out for an 'election coffee' after casting their ballots, she does remember watching the results as a family in the evening on TV.

"It looks like this election's result will be pretty straightforward, but it would be fun if there was a little excitement. I plan to watch TV to see if there will be a second round of voting or not," Auvinen says.

Results after 8 pm

The Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle will start live coverage of the election results at 7:30 pm on television and 7:45 pm on radio in Finnish and Swedish. Internet coverage will also concentrate on getting the news out after the polls officially close at 8 pm.

Yle's Finnish news anchor Matti Rönkä, who will host the election special, has his own prediction about how the evening will transpire.

"I think that the first moment of truth will come at 8 pm when we get the results of the 1.5 million advance votes. It might just decide the whole thing, or else it will make things very exciting. In this latter case, we will have to wait for the actual election day results to start trickling in. If the result is close, Yle will come up with its own election forecast," he says.

Yle's election forecast project manager Petri Ihalainen explains how it works:

"Once we get the advance votes, we use an algorithm to calculate election day voting patterns. Together the two allow us to generate a prediction about the result," he says. "If necessary, we should have our forecast ready for publication by 9 pm, as the presidential vote is much easier to calculate that the municipal elections vote."

The Yle News team will also be manning the desks tonight to offer our readers the results as soon as they are available. Follow Yle News' website at www.yle.fi/news for all of the latest.

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