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Polls open in Finland's presidential vote

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Polls open in Finland's presidential vote


People in Finland go to the polls today in an election which appears set to give the country’s first woman president another term in office.

Tarja Halonen has enjoyed a strong lead in the polls and the main question seems to be whether she will garner enough support to win outright in a first round of voting. The 62-year-old is backed by the Social Democrats and other left-leaning groups. Her presidency has coincided with a good period for the Finnish economy, despite an 8 percent unemployment rate. Halonen’s nearest challenger is Conservative former finance minister, Sauli Niinisto. He has cut the president’s lead in recent polls but remains some 20 percentage points adrift. Among his policies are closer ties with Nato – a sensitive subject in a traditionally neutral country. He also stresses the need for pro-business intitiatives to help create jobs. Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, whose Centre Party leads the governing coalition, lies just behind Niinistro in the polls. Both of Halonen’s main rivals will be looking for hope in the fact nearly a third of voters were still undecided in late surveys.
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