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Gay Candidate Reaches Finnish Presidential Runoff

Gay Candidate Reaches Finnish Presidential Runoff

Pekkahavisto

Pekka Haavisto, the first openly gay presidential candidate in Finland, has reached a runoff election scheduled for next month.

CNN International reports on the first round of voting, which took place Sunday. Haavisto, a member of the Green League, came in second to former finance minister Sauli Niinisto of the conservative National Coalition Party, who took just under 37% of the vote. The men are vying to replace Tarja Halonen, Finland's first female president, who is stepping down because of term limits.

"A runoff between the top two finishers is slated for February 5," according to CNN International. "Turnout was estimated at nearly 73% of Finland's 4.4 million eligible voters. The eventual winner will break a 30-year lock on the presidency by Halonen's Social Democrats."

Haavisto, who served as environment and development minister, brings experience working for the European Union and the United Nations in Sudan and the Middle East. Niinisto, the front-runner, brings experience as deputy chairman of the European Investment Bank, a selling point for Finns who want leadership in dealing with the troubled Eurozone.

If elected head of state, Haavisto would join recent trailblazers including Iceland prime minister Johanna Sigurdardottir, who became the world's first openly gay head of government in 2009. Elio Di Rupo was sworn in as the world's first openly gay male prime minister in Belgium last month.

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