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Polls: Finnish presidential race tightening

Two fresh opinion polls indicate that incumbent Sauli Niinistö's lead in the presidential race is narrowing.

Sauli Niinistö ja Jenni Haukio Munkkivuoren postissa Helsingissä.
Sauli Niinistö and his wife Jenni Haukio voted in advance at a post office in Munkkivuori, Helsinki, on Thursday. Image: Seppo Samuli / Lehtikuva

In a survey published by the leading newspaper Helsingin Sanomat on Friday, 68 percent of respondents said they would vote for President Sauli Niinistö in the first round of the presidential election. In the paper's previous poll, in December, three quarters of respondents said they would vote for the incumbent.

Remaining in second place is Greens candidate Pekka Haavisto, with 11 percent support.

On the rise is Paavo Väyrynen, a long-time Centre Party politician now running as an independent, garnering eight percent in this poll. In the December HS poll, he only showed three percent support, but he had not officially entered the race at the beginning of the month.

Alma: Väyrynen up, Haavisto steady

Another poll, published on Thursday evening by the Alma Media group, showed Niinistö with 58 percent backing, suggesting that he might fall short of the 50 percent of the vote needed to win outright in the first round. This poll, too, shows Haavisto as his closest rival with 14 percent support, followed by Väyrynen with seven percent.

Niinistö, then a conservative National Coalition Party candidate, faced Haavisto in the second round of the last election, six years ago. This time Niinistö is running as an unaffiliated candidate.

In Alma Media's December poll, Niinistö held 70 percent support, while Haavisto was at the same 14 percent and Väyrynen barely registered with two percent backing.

Populist Finns Party candidate Laura Huhtasaari attracted six percent support, followed by Centre Party's Matti Vanhanen and the others at four percent or less.

According to the Alma poll, Haavisto would fare best in a second round against the current president – but still would only pick up a quarter of the vote.

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