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Finland's presidential couple welcomes baby boy

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and his wife Jenni Haukio welcomed a son into the world on Friday night, one day after Niinistö was sworn in for a second six-year term as president.

Presidentti Sauli Niinistö ja rouva Jenni Haukio tervehtivät kansalaisia Presidentinlinnan parvekkeelta
Niinistö and Haukio at the Presidential Palace on 1 February 2018. Image: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva

It's been quite a week for Finland's President, Sauli Niinistö. Shortly before 8 pm on Friday evening, his wife Jenni Haukio gave birth to a son. A statement from his office says Niinistö, who was present at the birth, says that both the mother and child are doing well.

"We are now the parents of a little boy," the President wrote.

Just the day before, Niinistö was sworn in for his second six-year term as president of Finland, after winning over 62 percent of the vote in a landslide election on January 28.

Thousands of congratulation messages rained down for the couple on Facebook and other social media channels once the news of the family addition broke. The official website of the Finnish President crashed momentarily under the deluge of viewers.

President Niinistö's Friday night baby announcement on Facebook received 89,000 likes and 19,000 comments in less than an hour. By 9 am the next morning, these numbers had climbed to 122,000 likes and over 25,000 comments. The presidential post was shared over 4,500 times.

The statement said that the couple's son was born shortly before 8 pm at the Naistenklinikka hospital in Helsinki. Several comments on Twitter pointed out that this is the same facility that serves all women in the capital city area: proof of Finland's highly egalitarian society.

Congratulations to Lennu too

Helsinki's Police Department tweeted twice to congratulate the couple. First with a message addressed to Sauli and Jenni, and again a short time later with a tweet saying "It would not do to forget Lennu! Congratulations to the whole presidential family!" Lennu is the presidential couple's Boston terrier, who has become very popular for his antics

In their statement announcing the birth, the couple thanked everyone for the support and congratulations they have received since they announced they were expecting a child.

The birth marks the first time in Finland that a president has welcomed a baby while in office. In their statement released in October 2017 announcing the pregnancy, the couple said that they had been "hoping for a child for a long time" and had "experienced many difficulties over those years".

Niinistö, 69, and Jenni Haukio, 40, were married in 2009 after a very low-profile courtship. Haukio chose to keep her surname at the time. The Finnish media has already started speculating about which last name their son will be given.

International coverage

Several media outlets worldwide have reported on the birth of the Finnish first family's son. The New York Times reporting from Stockholm called attention to the fact that the baby is Niinistö's third, as he has two adult sons from his first marriage that ended in the 1990s when his wife died in a car accident. Other publications carrying the news include The Washington Post and Bloomberg in the US, Xinhua Net in China and Postimees in Estonia.

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