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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 January 2006, 19:51 GMT
Finns narrowly re-elect Halonen
Tarja Halonen (left) and Sauli Niinisto (right)
Ms Halonen is Finland's first woman president
Incumbent Tarja Halonen has won a second six-year term in Finland's presidential run-off election by a razor thin margin.

President Halonen, the country's first woman leader, beat off Conservative challenger Sauli Niinisto with 51.8% of the vote.

The left-wing president had not won an outright majority in the first round.

The president is largely involved with foreign policy, and both contenders offered very similar visions.

Both advocated close ties with Nato, which is a sensitive issue in Finland as the country shares an 800-mile border with its former enemy Russia.

Mr Niinisto was however considered to be more open to membership in the Western alliance.

President Halonen campaigned as "the president for all the people" on a platform of equality and preserving the welfare state.

Mr Niinisto, a 57-year-old banker, styled himself as a "workers' president", campaigning in favour of economic and social reforms to create jobs and ensure continued prosperity.

The Finnish head of state is not however involved in day-to-day politics.

Mr Niinisto conceded defeat saying "the man has lost".

He then kissed President Halonen's hand.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See Halonen supporters celebrate




SEE ALSO:
Leak scandal sinks Finnish PM
18 Jun 03 |  Europe
Country profile: Finland
04 Jan 06 |  Country profiles


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