He’s gay and Green – not the best of combinations for candidates seeking elected office in Finland. For 30 years, Finns have picked a Social Democrat to be their president. Green and gay candidates are still something of a novelty.
But Pekka Haavisto has experienced something of an Obama moment in the election. He caused a shock in last month’s first round of voting by beating more established candidates from bigger parties to qualify for this weekend’s runoff vote.
Haavisto is something of a rarity in Finnish politics, an openly gay politician living in a registered partnership with a man from Ecuador. On Sunday the Finns will decide if he can beat the current favourite, Sauli Niinistö.
On a cold afternoon at Hakaniemi Square in central Helsinki, a 50-strong crowd braved the weather to hear Haavisto speak. Anu Korppi-Koskela, 31, went along with her daughter.
"Antonio would be an excellent first lady," said Korppi-Koskela, referring to Antonio Flores, Haavisto’s partner, a hairdresser in Helsinki who has become a favourite subject for the Finnish tabloids.