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Yle poll suggests Niinistö support at 63%, Haavisto 14%

Three days until election day in Finland's presidential race, and incumbent Sauli Niinistö still leads the pack. Tampere University researcher Sami Borg says a second round looks highly unlikely.

Presidental election survey
Image: Yle Uutisgrafiikka

Yle's last poll before the official voting day for Finland's President suggests that incumbent Sauli Niinistö will win over 50 percent of the vote in the first round, eliminating the need for a second round of voting. A poll published three days before the vote indicates that 63 percent of respondents say they will vote for Niinistö to serve a second six-year term.

Although this percentage is down by nine percentage points from earlier polls, it still puts independent Niinistö far ahead of the second-place challenger, Green candidate Pekka Haavisto, who gained 14 percent of the latest poll's votes.

Finns Party MP Laura Huhtasaari and independent ex-Centre Party bigwig Paavo Väyrynen are tied for third place at 6 percent each, meaning that a populist, Eurosceptic stance is attracting 12 percent of the vote at present, if the survey truly represents the Finnish population as a whole.

A full 20 percent of respondents would not or could not indicate which presidential candidate would be winning their vote.

First time in history lead is so strong

Senior researcher at Tampere University Sami Borg says Niinistö's commanding lead is an anomaly in Finnish history.

"We haven't had an arrangement like this before, that the gap between the top candidate and the others is so clear," he says.

In 2006 for example, incumbent Tarja Halonen received over 50 percent support in the first polls preceding the elections, but this head start diminished as election day drew closer.

The latest Yle poll assessing voter behaviour ahead of the 2018 presidential elections contained responses from 1,422 Finnish residents, meaning that there is a 1.9 percent margin of error in either direction. It was carried out from January 17 to 23, when over 1.5 million Finns were casting their ballots in advance voting.

Borg says a second round of voting will only be possible if first round voting behaviour on January 28 differs significantly from what the polls have suggested.

"A second round would be quite a miracle, but it's not impossible."

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