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Finnish president: Election postponement decision "understandable"

President Sauli Niinistö said delaying the elections from April to June will lower risks posed by the coronavirus.

Henkilökuvassa, Suomen tasavallan presidentti, Sauli Niinistö
Finnish President Sauli Niinistö. Image: Janne Lindroos / Yle

President Sauli Niinistö said the decision to postpone Finland's upcoming local elections due to coronavirus concerns was not problematic and understandable.

On Saturday, the justice ministry announced that the municipal elections scheduled for 18 April would be postponed until 13 June. Eight out of nine parliamentary parties agreed to delaying the elections, with the only opposition coming from the Finns Party.

The president said that people have the right to safely participate in local elections and that the elections must be carried out securely.

In a separate interview over the weekend, Niinistö criticised the EU for its joint procurement of coronavirus vaccines.

However, he told Yle that it was important for people to persevere.

"Hope exists and hope wins. A [government-ordered] shutdown won't solve the situation--it's up to everyone's behaviour," he said.

'Not a problem'

Niinistö said that the elections' rescheduling was unproblematic.

"Elections are at the core of democracy and everyone should be able to take part in them without fear. The elections are also mass events in which millions of people take part. Thus, there is a great risk that infections would spread. The risks will be lower in June than in April," the president said.

"My assessment was not based on the Institute for Health and Welfare's figures. It is based on the fact that the virus is spreading now," Niinistö said.

The president's comments about the government's recent tightening of coronavirus restrictions were scant.

"I am not going to give grades to anyone," he said.

Niinistö was also brief in response to a question concerning the possibility of Finland imposing curfews in the fight against the spread of coronavirus.

"If it turns out that we need to restrict freedom of movement, it is not possible to fight against necessity," he said.

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