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Halonen Edges Narrowly Ahead in Polls

Incumbent Tarja Halonen appears to have regained a narrow lead over her rival Sauli Niinistö. Frenetic 11th-hour campaigning is aimed at influencing the huge percentage of undecided voters, and tipping the near-even deadlock in favour of one or the other.

The most recent poll, by YLE television news, shows Halonen regaining a few percentage points over her rival. The poll shows her with 55 percent support, and Niinistö with 45. The margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points.

As many as 15 percent of the people polled were undecided or refused to say who they would vote for. This is a huge question mark, making an accurate victory prediction virtually impossible.

Both candidates have been making a furious round of last-minute stumping at events and shopping centres in southern Finland. Incumbent Tarja Halonen, however, winds up her campaign train in Oulu, where it started. Challenger Sauli Niinistö has been making the rounds in Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa.

Earlier Polls Show Dead Heat

A poll published Friday by the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat put the two candidates in a much closer race. In that poll, support for Halonen was reported at 51 percentage points and Niinistö’s at 49 percent with a margin of error is 3 percentage points.

A week before that, a Helsingin Sanomat poll reported Halonen with 53 percent of the vote and Niinistö with 47 percent.

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