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Finland holding first round of presidential elections

January 22, 2012, 11:51 UTC+3

According to data of public polls, 29 percent of the electorate is ready to vote for Niinisto, 12 percent for Haavisto and 10 percent for Vayrynen

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HELSINKI, January 22 (Itar-Tass) — Finland holds on Sunday the first round of the presidential polls to elect the 12th head of state.

The top state post is vied by eight candidates, representing all the parliamentary parties of the country, including six men and two women.

Most political experts, guided by data of the past public polls, forecast that the main struggle will be waged between three candidates: parliament ex-speaker Sauli Niinisto, nominated by the ruling National Coalition Party, representative of the Green League and parliament deputy Pekka Haavisto and veteran of Finnish politics from the opposition party Finnish Centre Party Paavo Vayrynen.

Niinisto and Vayrynen already have experience of participating in presidential elections. According to data of public polls, 29 percent of the electorate is ready to vote for Niinisto, 12 percent for Haavisto and 10 percent for Vayrynen. However, 30 percent of the polled have not decided on the elections.

The results of polls predict the end for the 30-year presidential rule of Social Democrats: starting from 1982 Finland is headed by representatives of this party that won five elections running: Mauno Koivisto and Tarja Halonen worked for two terms, while Martti Ahtisaari – one term.

However, the five-percent rating of the present Social Democratic candidate – ex-premier Paavo Lipponen – whiffs off his hope to enter the run-off.

The rating of leader of the largest opposition party True Finns, European sceptic Timo Soini also dropped to six percent. The rating of the only representative of the operating government – Culture and sport Minister Paavo Arhinmaki from the Left Union of Finland is assessed at four percent.

Ratings of women candidates are estimated at two percent: Sari Essayah from Christian Democrats and Eva Biaudet from the Swedish People’s Party.

The Finnish Justice Ministry, responsible for holding elections, told Itar-Tass that “4.4 million people have the right to vote at the presidential elections”. Specialists forecast a turnout higher than in 2006 when it was 74 percent. A total of 31.7 percent of the electorate participated in elections during the ahead-of-time voting, staged between January 11 and 17.

If none of candidates collects on Sunday over 50 percent of votes, two contenders with the best results will clash in the second round to be held on February 5.

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