Tarja Halonen wins the 2006 presidential election in Finland

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Sunday, January 29, 2006

The flag of the Finnish President

Helsinki, Finland - The second round of presidential elections in Finland have concluded, with incumbent Tarja Halonen of left wing parties gaining 51,8% of the vote (with 100% of all votes tallied), and former finance minister, Sauli Niinistö of the national coalition party gaining 48,2%. Pre-election studies indicated a close match with both candidates gaining approximately 50% support in polls. Halonen got 53,9% of the advance votes, while Niinistö got 46,1%. Both candidates got close to 50% of election-day votes (January 29). The total turnout in the end was 74,0%, or 3,163,096 voters. These results are to be confirmed by Wednesday. In Comparison, Halonen won the second round against Esko Aho in the year 2000, with approximately the same percentage. Total turnout then was 80,2%.

Halonen failed to win an outright majority in the first round, resulting in a second round against Niinistö, the runner-up in the first round.

A major talking-point in the elections was the possibility of Finland becoming a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Halonen upholds the current Finnish policy of non-alignment and a reliable, independent defensive force, but does not outrule the possibility of Finland becoming a member sometime in the future. Co-operation with NATO will continue and be expanded on, despite the fact that the majority of Finns oppose outright membership.

Halonen will be inaugurated on March 1 for her second term, becoming the 19th president of Finland.

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