Finland is getting ready for the second round of a presidential election this Sunday in a climate of uncertainty after the latest opinion polls. The result has swung from being an almost foregone conclusion to one in which everything is up for grabs. Before the first round most people were confidently predicting a quick victory and an absolute majority for the outgoing president Tarja Halonen.
She missed out on capturing that after the right-wing challenger Sauli Niinistö did far better than expected. He has been eating into her substantial lead ever since. In just over a month, he has gone from being an also-ran in the polls to having power at his fingertips. However, experts say the last mile will be the most difficult to claw back. Nearly 1,5 million Finns have already sent in postal votes and the turnout figures are relatively high, a normal sign that the left wing has mobilised, which should favour Halonen. The latest opinion polls suggest she now only has between a two and six percentage point lead over Niinistö, which with normal margins for error mean the result is too close to call.