While the incumbent entered with a strong position and was always the favourite, the election underscores the significance of the democratic process.
The campaign season lasts, mercifully, only a few months, but it allows for debate and exchange of ideas on the national stage, and all parties that decided to field a candidate received media coverage and a turn at the microphone. Voter participation was 69.9 percent, compared to the previous presidential election, in 2012, which saw a participation rate of 72.8 percent.
The 2018 runner-up was the Green Party’s Pekka Haavisto, with 12.4 percent of the total. He also got second place against Niinistö in 2012, although that contest progressed to a second, run-off round. The rest of the 2018 candidates shook out as follows: Laura Huhtasaari (“Finns” Party, 6.9 percent), Paavo Väyrynen (previously Centre Party, running as an independent, 6.2), Matti Vanhanen (Centre Party, 4.1), Tuula Haatainen (Social Democrats, 3.3), Merja Kyllönen (Left Alliance, 3.0) and Nils Torvalds (Swedish People’s Party, 1.5).
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