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Poll: 52 percent of Finns want 2nd term for President Niinistö

Even though only one politician has formally announced his candidacy, an Yle-commissioned "presidential barometer" suggests that Finnish voters seem to have a definite favourite for the 2018 presidential race. Just over half of polled respondents said they'd like President Sauli Niinistö to serve a second term, according to the survey carried out by Taloustutkimus.

Sauli Niinistö Kaunialan
Finnish President Sauli Niinistö speaking at an event marking the 70th anniversary of the Kauniala Hospital on December 9, 2016. File photo. Image: Jari Kovalainen / Yle

According to an Yle-commissioned survey carried out by polling firm Taloustutkimus, President Sauli Niinistö was the clear favourite for 52 percent of nearly 2,000 respondents.

Support for Niinistö was high across all demographics groups and among various parties. Trailing behind the president in second place was the Greens' Pekka Haavisto, who received support from nine percent of the respondents.

Niinistö performed well among Centre Party supporters - with 65 percent in support of the president - and also received approval from supporters of other parties.

Some 75 percent of Finns Party voters said they supported Niinistö, and there was also a good deal of support for him from Christian Democrat and Swedish Peoples Party voters as well.

Niinistö has said that he will announce his decision about whether he will run for a second term by the summer of next year.

Some 1,970 people between the ages of 18 to 79 took part in the Taloustutkimus survey, which involved a selection of 46 possible candidates. With the exception of Åland, every region of Finland was represented in the survey.

At this stage, the survey was more of a hypothetical exercise, given that only one out of the 46 suggested candidates on the list has officially announced they are running.

Vanhanen only 2018 candidate - so far

The only politician who's so far officially running is the Centre Party's Matti Vanhanen, who received support from about two percent of those surveyed - roughly the same amount of support that Esko Aho (Centre), Li Andersson (Left Alliance), Eero Heinäluoma (Social Democratic Party), Olli Rehn (Centre) and Erkki Tuomioja (Social Democratic Party) received.

Foreign Minister Timo Soini of the Finns Party and the Centre Party's honorary chair Paavo Väyrynen were among the least popular potential presidential candidates, according to the survey.

Soini has already announced that he does not plan on running for president in 2018, while his party colleague and current Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö is mulling whether he will run.

The survey was carried out from the middle of October through the end of November, and has a statistical margin of error of +/- 2 percentage points.

Early voting in the first round of the next presidential election begins in the middle of January 2018.

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