Finland Elects President In New Geopolitical Landscape

Finland elects president in new geopolitical landscape

Helsinki, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 11th Feb, 2024) Two seasoned politicians face off in Finland's presidential election on Sunday, with the president's role having gained importance in light of the country's NATO membership and rising tensions with neighbouring Russia.

Some 4.3 million voters will have to choose between former conservative prime minister Alexander Stubb and ex-foreign minister Pekka Haavisto, a Green Party MP running as an independent.

The changing geopolitical landscape in Europe will be the main concern for the new head of state, who -- while having limited powers compared to the prime minister -- leads the country's foreign policy together with the government and also acts as supreme commander of Finland's armed forces.

Relations between Moscow and Helsinki deteriorated following Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine, prompting Finland to drop decades of military non-alignment and join NATO in April 2023.

Russia, with whom Finland shares a 1,340-kilometre (830-mile) border, swiftly warned of "countermeasures".

"The fact that we've just joined NATO has a lot of significance because the building of the NATO institution in Finland and what it will look like will largely be a task for the new president," Theodora Helimaki, doctoral researcher in political science at the University of Helsinki, told AFP.

"The top two were perhaps the most experienced in terms of foreign policy," she added regarding the first round.