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Halonen Wins; Niinistö Concedes Defeat

Tarja Halonen has won the 2006 Presidential elections. Halonen won a narrow victory with 51.8 percent of the vote. National Coalition candidate Sauli Niinistö came a close second with 48.2 percent.

Halonen got off to a strong start with the advance voting figures. When these were released she had 53.9 percent of the vote, compared to just 46.1 percent for Niinistö.

Halonen’s almost comfortable lead began to slip immediately as Sunday’s votes were counted. Nonetheless, she was declared the statistical winner around 8:40 p.m., which meant that at that point it was almost impossible for Niinistö to pull out a victory.

“Thank you for putting up a tough competition,” Halonen said to her rival once the outcome was clear.

“Thank you for putting up an even tougher fight,” Niinistö replied.

Niinistö Won in Only Two Districts Although the final vote tally was close, when the statistics are broken down by electoral district they clearly show the scales tipped in favour of Halonen. Out of 15 districts, she won a majority in every one except Oulu and Vaasa. Analysts say that the most apathetic voters were traditionally Centre Party supporters. Despite the Centre’s attempt to rally its support base in favour of Niinistö, it appears that many were unconvinced. A poll conducted last week revealed that Niinistö was perceived by many voters as being too much in favour of joining NATO, and that this issue more than any other counted against him. Niinistö Wants "Out of the Limelight"

When asked what she would do now, Halonen said she was back at work on Monday with a full schedule.

Niinistö said he would return to Luxembourg and again take up his post as a Vice President of the European Investment Bank.

“It’s meaningful work, and meaningful for Finland as well,” he said. He added that for the time being, he would like to step out of the political limelight.

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