Five things you should know about Finland’s new “Selfie” president Alex Stubb

Here are five things we know about the Nordic nation’s new president.


After two rounds of voting and a particularly close race, Finland has a new president.

Alexander Stubb of the right-wing National Coalition Party (known locally as Kokoomus) defeated left-wing Green Party politician Pekka Haavisto in Sunday’s vote.

Here are five things we know about the Nordic nation’s new president:

1. Alex Stubb belongs to the liberal wing of his party: he is pro-Europe, for marriage equality and an avowed internationalist. Previously he was party leader, prime minister and foreign minister as well as a member of the European Parliament in Brussels. He is fluent in Finnish, Swedish, English, French and German. An avid sportsman – Stubb attended university in America on a golf scholarship – there will be no shortage of images of the new Finnish president in tight Lycra sportswear, taking part in Iron Man competitions or skiing, although he may then have less time for these activities has been installed in the Presidential Palace in Helsinki.

2. Stubb says he wants to be a president who can unite the country. This is no small feat when his Kokoomus party leads the coalition government with the far-right Finns and controversial celebrities with homophobic posts and politicians convicted of racism offenses have spoken out for him in the presidential election campaign. A recent Finnish study found that 40% of Stubb’s supporters would not vote for his rival Haavisto because he is a gay man; While another survey found that 30% of Finnish voters said they take a candidate’s sexuality into account when casting their vote. That’s a lot of work to unify.

3. Never one to shy away from using social media, Alex Stubb is known for his penchant for selfies with supporters – especially those with celebrities. “For me, social media has always been a spontaneous communication channel,” wrote Stubb in October 2021 on X, formerly Twitter. “I manage my own account. I am aware of the risks. “I’ve been burned many times.” He said that despite the risks, it was better to use social media to communicate than not to communicate at all.

4. A 2018 tweet from Stubb featuring his “old friend and colleague” Sergei Lavrov has not aged well, and he apologized for saying people who wanted to block Russian investment in a Finnish nuclear power plant were “Russophobes “.

4. Stubb must remain humble. One of the criticisms he has repeatedly received in the past is that he has an arrogant and demanding attitude. That has been significantly toned down in this election campaign, in which he has worked hard to appear measured and collegial to his opponents, but he will have to maintain that for at least six years in office (even at this point, many political observers doubt that he will either would only run for a second). Expression).

5. Stubb has big shoes to fill and succeeds President Sauli Niinistö, who has enjoyed enormous approval ratings among the Finnish public over the last two terms in office – twelve years. There is little doubt that Stubb was attracted to the race by the renewed prominence of the Finnish presidency following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Finland’s NATO membership negotiations. A joke among the Helsinki press corps is that the most dangerous place in Finland is between Alex Stubb and a television camera – that may be true, but there are also many very mundane presidential duties that Stubb must perform away from the spotlight And he must show that he’s equally interested in having afternoon coffee with pensioners or touring a factory and a military garrison as he storms onto the world stage, grinning his trademark big-toothed smile for the television cameras.

At a meeting of Nordic foreign ministers in Denmark in 2011, he was famously caught on the open microphone saying the meeting was “shit,” while the representative of the delegation reprimanded him: “With his body language and his words, our minister communicated “That Nordic affairs don’t do that” is high on his agenda.” Alex Stubb needs to tackle the boring with as much enthusiasm as the international media attention he enjoys so much.


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Amanda Walker

Global events enthusiast. Reporting with a critical lens to offer readers a deeper perspective.

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