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Presidential elections: Niinistö, Haavisto headed for second round

With 100% of the votes counted, the election has shaped up as a first-round victory for National Coalition Party candidate, former finance minister Sauli Niinistö, who will face off against internationally minded Green League candidate Pekka Haavisto in the second round on February 5th.

Pekka Haavisto ja Sauli Niinistö
Pekka Haavisto ja Sauli Niinistö kohtaavat toisensa presidentinvaalien toisella kierroksella. Image: YLE

Finns Party candidate Timo Soini conceded defeat as soon as the first initial results were released at 8pm.

Soini called his own his own fourth place in advance voting "expected".

"Not good, but satisfactory," Soini said of the 9.5% of the advance vote that he gleaned.

Lipponen: "Could have gone better"

Social Democratic Party candidate Paavo Lipponen said that the election could have gone better for him. However, he noted that early results of 7.3% looked better than what the polls had forecast.

"It could have gone better, but it is better that the polls expected. It's rather far from the second round, but let's see."

Lipponen thanked his supporters and said that his campaign started from back in the field and swam against the current.

He paraphrased the late Czech President Vaclav Havel, saying that actions concerned with values have an impact in the long term.

Arhinmäki: "I'm very satisfied"

Left Alliance candidate Paavo Arhinmäki said that he was very satisfied with his election campaign and with the atmosphere, adding that it was well worth taking part in the election.

Arhinmäki was not concerned that the combined votes of the two left-wing candidates looked to be low. He pointed out that these were elections for an individual.

Essayah: "Women were not a theme"

Christian Democratic Party candidate Sari Essayah interpreted the poor showing by the two female contenders as an indication that women's issues did not become a theme in the race.

However, she was satisfied with her own campaign.

"The campaign was good and there has been positive feedback," said Essayah.

She also pointed out that her forecast 2.6% of the vote was the second best ever for a Christian Democratic candidate, after the 8.8% received by Raino Westerholm in 1978.

Just slightly over 4.4 million people were eligible to vote in the election -- about one third cast advance ballots. At roughly 73 percent, voter turnout has been similar to past presidential races.

YLE's election coverage on TV1 attracted as many as 1.9 million viewers, peaking between 9 and 10pm Sunday.

For an overview of the candidates and election issues, see:

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