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Niinistö packs 1.5 million-euro presidential election campaign war chest with backing from big business donors

According to campaign funding returns filed so far, Sauli Niinistö’s presidential re-election bid will be funded mainly by members of Finland’s affluent business community.

Sauli Niinistö
Some 400 donors have come forward to bankroll Niinistö's re-election campaign. Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

On Wednesday, incumbent President Sauli Niinistö’s elector association filed a voluntary advance election funding return with the National Audit Office VTV. The filing indicates that Niinistö’s backers include a list of heavyweights in the local business community.

Niinistö, whom polls show to be a favourite to win the election outright in January, was able to attract financial backing from more than 400 supporters who contributed some 1.5 million euros to his re-election campaign. Roughly half of Niinistö’s supporters were private individuals, who forked out a total of some 726,000 euros.

Meanwhile backing from business enterprises came in at about 510,000 euros. Funding from other entities came in just short of 185,000 euros, the vast majority of which – some 100,000 euros – came from the Foundation of Private Entrepreneurs (Yksityisyrittäjäin Säätiö).

Supercell titans join donor list

Although Niinistö has distanced himself from the centre-right and business-friendly National Coalition Party for his re-election bid, the campaign financing filing still reflects his roots in the party. The return features millionaire corporate luminaries such as Supercell founders Mikko Kodisoja, Niko Derome, Ilkka Paananen and Lassi Leppinen.

Nokia board chair Risto Siilasmaa and one-time Nokia chief executives Jorma Ollila and Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo also help round out the star-studded list of Niinistö’s campaign contributors. Other familiar business bylines include Cargotec CEO Mika Vehviläinen, former Kone head Matti Alahuhta and reality-TV personality and real estate agent Jethro Rostedt.

More modest filings from Left Alliance’s Kyllönen

Apart from Niinistö, Left Alliance presidential election candidate Merja Kyllönen also turned in a campaign funding report on Wednesday. The filing shows that her campaign spending will be just one-tenth of Niinistö’s – roughly 150,000 euros.

The majority of her support came from party coffers at 100,000 euros, while private individuals dug deep to contribute another 30,000 euros. Other entities pitched in with about 18,000.

Kyllönen’s filing did not disclose the names of individual donors, because their contributions did not exceed the 1,500-euro limit required by law for disclosure of the source.

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