Openly gay Green Party candidate Pekka Haavisto nabbed enough votes in yesterday’s first-round presidential poll in Finland to move on to a final two-man showdown on February 5.
With 18.8% of the popular vote, Haavisto squeaked by the third place finisher, former Finnish foreign minister Paavo Vayrynen, who took 17.5%. The clear winner was the conservative Sauli Niinisto, with 37% — a decisive victory, but not the 50% majority needed to avoid a second-round runoff.
The 53-year-old Haavisto is a longtime member of the Finnish parliament, and an avid environmentalist who’s worked extensively with the United Nations. In his private life, he and other-half Antonio Flores, originally from Ecuador, have been together since 1997, and in a registered partnership since 2002.
The winner of the upcoming runoff will replace 12-year Finnish president (and Conan O’Brien look-alike) Tarja Halonen, a strong friend to the gays who was once, despite her heterosexuality, head of the Finnish LGBT-rights group SETA.
If he’s victorious, Haavisto will become the first publically-elected LGBT leader in the effervescently gay-friendly Nordic countries. (Icelandic prime minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, who’s openly lesbian, became the world’s first national queer leader in 2009, but not through direct election.) Haavisto could also replace Adam Lambert-bf Sauli Koskinen as Finland’s most internationally famous gay.
Photo by Soppakanuuna