Helsinki — Finland’s former conservative prime minister Alexander Stubb announced on Wednesday his candidacy in the country’s presidential election in January to succeed Sauli Niinisto, who is stepping down after two terms.
Stubb, 55, served as prime minister in 2014-2015 and has held the portfolios for finance, foreign affairs and EU affairs. He currently works as a professor at the European University Institute in Italy.
“When the fatherland calls, you go,” Stubb told reporters at a press conference, referring to being asked by conservative Prime Minister Petteri Orpo and his National Coalition Party to be their candidate in the election.
“I believe that one of the most important tasks for the next presidential term is to work for the preservation of the rule-based international system,” Stubb said.
“The next president will step into a world that is changing, that is partly more insecure and also partly more fragile than the one we’ve gotten used to after 1989.”
I have been asked by @PetteriOrpo and the @kokoomus party board to stand in the Finnish presidential elections in January 2023.
I am both honoured and thankful for the trust bestowed upon me.
Press confererence tomorrow.
— Alexander Stubb (@alexstubb) August 15, 2023
In Finland, the president is the head of state and supreme commander of the armed forces, sharing responsibility with the government for defence and foreign policy, though not EU affairs.
Among Stubb’s opponents will be former foreign minister Pekka Haavisto of the Greens party, who together with Niinisto played a key role in securing Finland’s NATO membership earlier this year.
Haavisto’s run for the presidency will be his third after failed attempts in 2012 and 2018.
Current Bank of Finland governor Olli Rehn is also in the running, as is speaker of parliament Jussi Halla-aho of the far-right Finns Party.
Niinisto, hugely popular with Finns for his calm and pragmatic approach, is stepping down aged 74 after having served a maximum of two six-year terms.
He is known for having cultivated close ties with President Vladimir Putin of Russia, with whom the Nordic nation shares a 1,340-kilometre (830-mile) border, before becoming one of Moscow’s most vocal opponents after its invasion of Ukraine.
Finland’s presidential election will take place on January 28, 2024, with a possible second round to be held on February 11.
Follow African Insider on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
For more African news, visit Africaninsider.com