Center-right candidate Sauli Niinistö may look fairly poised for victory in Finland’s presidential election on Sunday, but if his liberal challenger, Pekka Haavisto, can convert a frenzy of recent support — via social media, flash mobs, and Finnish pop stars — into actual votes, he could just become the world’s first openly gay publicly-elected president.
Which would, in turn, elevate his adorable young foreign-born beau, Nexar Antonio Flores, to prominence as Finland’s First Dude.
Flores — a native of Ecuador who goes by his middle name, Antonio — is 33 years old, younger by a full two decades than his politico partner. The couple (seen above at a fundraiser this week) met in 1997 in Bogotá, Colombia, on the younger man’s 19th birthday. Flores emigrated to Finland the following year, and he and Haavisto registered their partnership in 2002, as soon as Finnish law allowed it. Flores is now a successful hairdresser in the country’s capital, Helsinki.
To the surprise of many in Finland, Haavisto’s sexuality never become a major issue in this year’s presidential campaign. Far more controversial were his liberal policies and his Green League affiliation, to the extent that most were shocked when he even made it through to the two-man run-off to lead the country.
But Haavisto’s relationship with Flores has been the source of some eyebrow-raising. Last October, while Flores was on a visit to his native Ecuador, he was arrested on DUI charges and jailed for five days. And in 2007, he was involved in a messy bar fight at Helsinki gay club DTM — the very same hotspot where Adam Lambert and boyfriend Sauli Koskinen had their now-infamous pre-holiday lovers’ quarrel just weeks ago. (Watch Flores in an interview with Finnish media here.)
Even with the recent groundswell of public support (especially among young people), the cards are certainly stacked against Haavisto: The latest polls in Finland have him still trailing Niinistö by a sizeable margin, 62% to 38%, among voters who’ve made up their minds. But with 23% still undecided, an upset isn’t out of the question.
Otherwise, the stoic Nordic country will be left with a far more typically Finnish First Lady, Niinistö’s school-marmy wife Jenni Haukio — about whom the brightest that can be said seems to be that her “cheerful side is often overlooked.”
Image via YouTube