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Niinisto wins landslide re-election as Finland's president

By Ed Adamczyk
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto won a second term in office on Sunday in a landslide victory over seven opponents File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto won a second term in office on Sunday in a landslide victory over seven opponents File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Finnish President Sauli Niinisto was re-elected to a second term, the first time the popular vote -- and not a runoff -- was sufficient to determine a winner.

Niinisto received 62.7 percent of the vote on Sunday, with seven other candidates receiving the remaining 37 percent.

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Each conceded the election later in the day. His closest opponent, Pekka Haavisto of the Greens Party, received 12 percent. Voter turnout was about 70 percent, officials said.

Rather than seeking the nomination of his National Coalition, Niinisto ran as an independent candidate. Polls indicated that his support came from across the country's political spectrum, and even Haavisto said, "The people wanted stability."

While the position is largely ceremonial, the presidential duties include involvement in Finland's foreign policy.

Niinisto, an economist, made his reputation as a skilled power broker in his first six-year term by balancing Finland's responsibilities to Western countries while building a close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A defense telephone hotline was established between Finland and Russia during Niinisto's first term. He and Putin have spoken in person or by telephone more than 20 times, Bloomberg News reported. Russia and Finland share an 833-mile border.

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"I see no need to change our Russia policy," Niinisto said after his re-election. "We differ on Crimea and East Ukraine and the sanctions, but we've cleared the air on that. Beyond that are a multitude of issues neighbors must take care of."

Niinisto will be inaugurated Thursday.

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